Palace of Culture and Science

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Palace of Culture and Science
Pałac Kultury i Nauki
Pałac Kultury i Nauki p7.jpg
General information
Type Multi-function
Architectural style Modern
Location Warsaw, Poland
Address Plac Defilad 1
Coordinates 52°13′54″N 21°00′23″E / 52.23167°N 21.00639°E / 52.23167; 21.00639Coordinates: 52°13′54″N 21°00′23″E / 52.23167°N 21.00639°E / 52.23167; 21.00639
Construction started 2 May 1952
Completed 22 July 1955
Architectural 230.7 m (757 ft)
Antenna spire 237 m (778 ft)
Roof 187.68 m (615.7 ft)
Observatory 114 m (374 ft)
Technical details
Floor count 42
Floor area 123,084 m2 (1,324,865 sq ft)
Design and construction
Architect Lev Rudnev
Other information
Number of rooms 3288

Constructed in 1955, the Palace of Culture and Science (Polish: Pałac Kultury i Nauki; abbreviated PKiN) is a notable high-rise building in Warsaw, Poland. It is the center for various companies, public institutions and cultural activities such as concerts, cinemas, theaters, libraries, sports clubs, universities, scientific institutions and authorities of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Motivated by Polish historicism and American art deco high-rise buildings, the PKiN was designed by Soviet architect Lev Rudnev in "Seven Sisters" style and is informally referred to as the Eighth Sister.

The Palace of Culture and Science is the tallest building in Poland, the eighth tallest building in the European Union and one of the tallest on the European continent. It is 237 metres (778 ft)[1] tall, including the structural 43-metre high spire.



The building was originally known as the Joseph Stalin Palace of Culture and Science (Pałac Kultury i Nauki imienia Józefa Stalina), but in the wake of destalinization the dedication to Stalin was revoked.[2] Stalin's name was removed from the colonnade, interior lobby and one of the building's sculptures.

Varsovians still commonly use nicknames to refer to the palace, notably Pekin ("Beijing", because of its abbreviated name PKiN), and Pajac ("clown", a word that sounds close to Pałac). Other less common names include Stalin's syringe, the Elephant in Lacy Underwear, or even the Russian Wedding Cake.[3][4]

However, only Pekin was the popular alternative name. Also, despite some later confusion, the name patyk (a Polish word for stick) didn't stand for PKiN but for the 10-metre tall signpost, in the corner of the Plac Defilad (Parade Square), near the intersection of Marszałkowska Street and Aleje Jerozolimskie. The four walls of the signpost display the names of several large or important cities around the world, together with the distances from the signpost itself.


Construction started in 1952 and lasted until 1955. A gift from the Soviet Union to the people of Poland, the tower was constructed, using Soviet plans, by 3500–5000 Russian workers and 4000 Polish workers. 16 workers died in accidents during the construction.[5] The Russian builders were housed at a new suburban complex built at Poland's expense, with its own cinema, food court, community centre and swimming pool, called Osiedle "Przyjaźń" (Neighborhood of Friendship).[2][6] The architecture of the building is closely related to several similar skyscrapers built in the Soviet Union of the same era, most notably the Main building of Moscow State University. However, the main architect Lev Rudnev incorporated some Polish architectural details into the project after traveling around Poland and seeing the architecture.[5] The monumental walls are headed with pieces of masonry copied from Renaissance houses and palaces of Kraków and Zamość.[5]

Shortly after opening, the building hosted the 5th World Festival of Youth and Students. Many visiting dignitaries toured the Palace, and it also hosted performances by notable international artists, such as a 1967 concert by the Rolling Stones, the first by a major western rock group behind the Iron Curtain.[7] In 1985, it hosted the historic Leonard Cohen concert, surrounded by many political expectations, which were avoided by Cohen in his prolonged introductions during the three-hour show.[8]

Four 6.3-metre clock faces were added to the top of the building ahead of the millennium celebrations in 2000.

Present day[edit]

South view
The Palace of Culture and Science at night during Christmas market
Congress Hall

As the city's most visible landmark, the building was controversial from its inception. Many Poles initially hated the building because they considered it to be a symbol of Soviet domination, and at least some of that negative feeling persists today. Some have also argued that, regardless of its political connotations, the building destroyed the aesthetic balance of the old city and imposed dissonance with other buildings. This contrast has been lessened somewhat over the years with the construction of several skyscrapers in the vicinity. Despite the controversies, the Palace became an internationally recognized symbol of Warsaw.

The building currently serves as an exhibition center and office complex. The Palace contains a multiplex cinema with eight screens,[9] four theaters (Studio, Dramatyczny, Lalka and 6. piętro), two museums (Museum of Evolution and Museum of Technology), offices, bookshops, a large swimming pool, an auditorium hall for 3000 people called Congress Hall,[10] and an accredited university, Collegium Civitas, on the 11th and 12th floors of the building. The terrace on the 30th floor, at 114 metres, is a well-known tourist attraction with a panoramic view of the city.

The Congress Hall held the finals of Miss World 2006.

In 2010, the illumination of the building was modernized and high power LED lights were installed, allowing the Palace to take various colours at night.[11] The first use of the new lighting was during Christmas in 2010, when the Palace was illuminated in green and white to resemble a Christmas tree.[12] In December 2013, during the Euromaidan protests, it was illuminated in yellow and blue, the colors of the Ukrainian national flag as a sign of solidarity with the protesters.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "History of the Palace", at the official website (retrieved March 22, 2016)
  2. ^ a b "Warsaw Palace of Culture and Science" (PDF). Best Urban Freight Solutions. 24 May 2007. 
  3. ^ "Warsaw: Don't Miss". Retrieved 25 July 2008. 
  4. ^ Małgorzata Barwicka (7 March 2007). "Pałac pod lupą". (in Polish). Tygodnik Ciechanowski. Retrieved 29 July 2008. 
  5. ^ a b c "History of PKiN in a nutshell". Retrieved 25 July 2008. 
  6. ^ Pałac Kultury i Nauki "Historia" at the PKN official website.
  7. ^ Timothy Tilghman. "The Stones Tumultuous 1967 European Tour". Retrieved 25 July 2008. 
  8. ^ "Leonard Cohen in Warsaw (1985) by Daniel Wyszogrodzki". 22 March 1985. Retrieved 29 October 2012. 
  9. ^ "Kinoteka: Wynajem sal". Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  10. ^ Magdalena J. Zaborowska. "The Height of (Architectural) Seduction: Reading the "Changes" through Stalin's Palace in Warsaw, Poland". Centre for Cultural Research, University of Aarhus. Retrieved 18 April 2008. 
  11. ^ "Stolica: ponad dwa miliony na oświetlenie Pałacu Kultury" (in Polish). Onet Wiadomości. 10 September 2010. Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  12. ^ "Świąteczne oświetlenie Pałacu Kultury i Nauki w Warszawie" (in Polish). 23 December 2010. Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  13. ^ "Pałac Kultury podświetlony w barwach Ukrainy [ZDJĘCIA]" (in Polish). Warszawa. 5 December 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2015. 

External links[edit]