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The Palace of Culture and Science is located in Central Warsaw, it is easy to spot as the most prominent building in the centre of the city. To many locals it is an ugly permanent reminder of communist rule, an ugly grey building imposing itself overlooking the cities every corner. To others it is a symbol of optimism and the development of Poland, promoting Science and Culture, it is a definite for anyone visiting the city as a Tourist. A ticket costs around 20 Zloty (£5) this gives you entry to a scientific exhibition on the ground floor, these can vary but are generally quite small and of great interest. The ticket also allows you to get a lift to the viewing station on the 32nd floor and then get amazing views of the city. This is well worth doing and views of the Wisla and the Old Town especially are stunning. The viewing area is large and can fit a lot of people, the thing I found most interesting was there is a lady employed to run the lift and she has her own chair, which is pretty cool. There is a cafe on the ground floor and the 32nd floors of the building, bags must be handed in before entering the lift and on cloudy days the views are very weak, but there is sometimes an ice rink outside, views can be stunning and the science exhibitions are underrated. As an experience it is worth doing, it can still divide people as to whether the palace is an eyesore or an inspiration, but at £5 it is well worth visiting when you are in Warsaw.
In recent years there have been blatant architectural attempts to cover up the Palace of Culture with various skyscrapers, the latest being the in your face shopping centre Zlote Tarasy. The Palace of Culture is not a particularly well liked building, mostly due to its status as a gift by Stalin from the USSR to Poland for war efforts and "embracing" communism. Supposedly Warsaw was offered a metro/subway or this building and took the building instead, thus the reason metro stations are still being built today. To the foreign eye, this imposing building is not particularly ugly, it's an impressive size and in reality probably one of the best looking buildings in Warsaw still today. It's not as grey as people would have you believe and compared to the nearby train station, it's a work of art. It houses numerous theatres, cinemas, "Café Kulturalna" downstairs - a place that is always keen to show unique films or concerts, it's a bit pricey and a tad snobby but another option all the same. The cinema Kinoteka has old-fashioned small rooms but the prices are almost uncomparable in Warsaw - being particularly cheap when you have their membership card. The reception staff and in particular in the locker room downstairs, lack charm. There's very often science expositions of interest there and they are usually cheap, this also means they tend to get relatively busy too - being a particular favourite with school trips. The elevator is insanely fast and worth the ticket entrance in itself. On the top floor you get a wonderful panorama of the city for about 15zl, if the weather is good then its well worth your value, a disappointing factor though is that the2zl a go telescopes at the top are often out of order. Overall, I like this building but the Poles don't and it's only a matter of time before it's knocked down in my opinion. Go there while you have the chance.
The very essence of socialist-realist eclecticism is the Palace of Culture and Science where the pseudo Gothic and pseudo-Renaissance body is enhanced by truly Soviet monumentalism and adorned with lamps, marble and columns. Warsaw has changed remarkably over four decades but the mark of communism hasn't been completely erased. The monumental building stands in the heart of the city. You would be hard pushed not to see it even if you tried, soaring 231 metres high into the sky. The palace stands on Parade Square, the largest in Europe, but there is a plan in action to join this monument to social-realism with the tissue of the modern city. The building was commissioned by Stalin as a 'gift from the Soviet people' and I think most visitors will realise a soon as they see it that in style it is very similar to the Empire State Building. Stalin did his homework, sending a secret delegation to the US capital to learn about American construction methods. The Second World War broke out, plans were put on hold and it wasn't until 1952 that Stalin's architects started to put their knowledge to the test. Lev Rudynev was the man put in charge of design, he brought in workers from the Soviet states and housed them in a special village west of Warsaw. It took three years before the palace was completed. By this time Stalin had died and never did see his gift materialise. Originally the building was used as the party's headquarters and at New Year special dinners were held for the very best Polish socialist workers. Nevertheless, the building was disliked by the people of the city, they thought it was an eye sore and over the years have campaigned to find developers to build in front of the palace so that it will no longer be a blot on the skyline. I understand that the building is viewed as a sign of Russian dominance but I find the whole structure is fascinating and I love the fact that from any central street in the city this building can be viewed. It is like Goliath standing high watching over the city and its people. Throughout the Christmas period the buildiing is adorned with thousands of twinkling lights illuminating the whole of the city. Viewed closely several intricate details appear in focus consisting of many motifs and numerous battlements. Sculptural decoration comes in the form of figures of people aware of their functions and responsibilities in a socialist society. On the E Platter Street side , the sculpture depicts cultural luminaries, while on the Marszalkowska Street side are the world of science. The interior is a maze of halls and corridors, with chambers from which communist leaders once made their speeches. The palace's most attractive room is the Congress Hall (Salla Kongresowa), which hosts renowned artists as well as festivals such as the Jazz Jamboree. Today, the palace is home to museums of technology and palaeontology, the theatres, Studio, Dramatyczny and Lalka, the Youth Centre, an indoor swimming pool and a bank, not to mention cafes and restaurants. The palace's halls are also hired for exhibitions and trade fairs, while the top floor accommodates the Polish Academy of Science, Warsaw University and Warsaw's Municipal Office. On the 30th floor there is a viewing terrace where you can see the city but remember to hold on to your hat as it is very windy at the top. Admission for the viewing level is 15zl/20zl (from £3 - £4 approx). From September - open 09.00 - 20.00. Fri - Sat. You can find the Palace of Culture and Science (Palac Kultury i Nauki) on Parade Square (pl. Defilad) which adjoins Marszalkowska Street. Summary ------------ Personally I love this building and I find it quite sad that several modern high rise buildings have been constructed to block the building out even though the modern structures are futuristic and attractive. It is difficult for me as a westerner and not having been brought up in communist times to totally dismiss the building just because it was a gift from Stalin but on the other hand the Polish people have had a belly full of the Russians and I understand and sympathise with this also. I can't imagine Warsaw without this building as it is the focal point and apart from the physical structure it is a great venue for concerts and exhibitions. Well worth a visit.
This palace is the tallest building in Poland. The construction began in 1952 and the building was completed in 1955.