After we had seen “Stalin’s Birthday Cake” in Riga, the Academy of Sciences, we were quite curious about the visually quite similar building in Warsaw, the Palace of Culture and Science. For us, the Warsaw Palace of Culture is one of the most impressive buildings of the city, that we wanted to take a closer look.
Warsaw Palace of Culture – worth knowing
By order of the Soviet leadership under Stalin, a “gift of the Soviet nation to the Polish nation” was to be built in Warsaw. The Russian architect Rudniew designed the Palace of Culture building in the style of Socialist Classicism and some elements of traditional Polish architecture. However, for the Poles it was always a sign of oppression and a symbol of power of the Russians.
The laying of the foundation stone for the “Pałac Kultury i Nauki imienia Józefa Stalina”, originally named after Stalin, took place in 1952. Stalin himself did not live to see its completion, he predeceased it. It took only 3 years until the Warsaw Palace of Culture was completed by several thousand workers in 24-hour shifts. On 21 June 1955 the opening could be celebrated. Today the engraving with Stalin’s name at the entrance is covered and the building is only called Palace of Culture and Science.
For a long time this was a place where the state represented itself, where people were invited to dine, for example, in the best restaurant in town. The elite of the state, the parties and the Warsaw Pact met here. But it was also a place of culture. In 1967, the Rolling Stone performed here. Over 60% of the audience consisted of party officials, who were able to enjoy the concert free of charge. In front of the palace there were riots, because many fans would have liked to have tickets and did not get them. Also in the concert hall it went turbulently, Mick Jagger stood sometime only in boxer shorts before the functionaries. And even today it is rumored that the group had their fee paid in liquid currency in the form of Polish vodka. But whether this is true will probably always remain a secret.
On the roof of the building today there are numerous transmission towers, the highest point is now 237 meters high.
A special highlight is the tower clock. This was unveiled on New Year’s Day 2000 and is said to be the second largest clock in Europe and the highest tower clock in the world. Already the hand has a length of 6 meters.
What you can discover in the building
The building has been listed as a historical monument since 2007.
The whole building has over 3200 rooms, which are used in different ways. Today it houses cinemas, 4 theaters, 3 museums, an indoor swimming pool and the College of Photography. There are large rooms for concerts and fairs, a panoramic restaurant and an observation deck. In addition, you can find a shopping center, various bars, restaurants and cafes in the building.
About 5000 people work here and the Palace of Culture consumes as much electricity and water as a housing estate.
We went looking for the tourist information office in the building on our first day in Warsaw. Having chosen the wrong entrance, we eventually arrived where we wanted to go through a confusing maze of corridors.
For us, a real highlight was the visit to the observation deck.
Visit to the observation deck
On the 30th floor of the Warsaw Palace of Culture there is a viewing platform. We were already there before the morning opening. Fortunately, we already had our tickets and thus did not have to wait in the long queue at the ticket office. With the first ride in the elevator we went up to 114 meters.
The elevator is small and narrow. Hardly 8 people fit in here, larger bags are not allowed. In 25 seconds, the small cabin takes you high above the city.
One arrives in a central vestibule. From here, you can then enter the observation deck, which leads once around the entire building, giving us a 360-degree view of Warsaw.
It’s windy on the 30th floor as we step out the door. Before I even dare to take a look over Warsaw, I am surprised at the size of the all-round gallery. The height under the roof is enormous, it is estimated to be 10 meters. The gallery itself is certainly 5 meters wide.
Then I step up to the stone parapet. It is good that one can stand on a small elevation. I’m only 1.60 meters tall and would otherwise have had problems looking over.
The view from the observation deck is simply outstanding! From up here you can discover Warsaw from a bird’s eye view. One side is dominated by modern skyscrapers, which show the new Warsaw. In another direction, one discovers rather the socialist prefabricated buildings and can finally also look over the old town of Warsaw.
I am really thrilled by this great view and circled several times the observation deck. Again and again I discover something new!
We were on the observation deck of Warsaw Palace of Culture for about an hour before we got on the elevator that took us back to the base of the building. For us, the visit was really worthwhile and in good weather you should definitely plan this visit when you are in Warsaw.
pl. Defilad 1
Metro, bus, tram: Station Centrum
Opening hours observation deck:
daily 10-20 o’clock
In summer, for a small extra charge, you can enjoy the view on Friday and Saturday until 23:45.
Entrance fees viewing platform:
Adults: 25 PLN
Discounts are offered.
Disclosure: The visit to the observation deck of the Warsaw Palace of Culture was made possible by the Warsaw Tourism Board. Thank you very much! The report is independent of the invitation and reflects only our impression.