Palace of Culture and Science

The Palace of Culture and Science (Polish: Pałac Kultury i Nauki; abbreviated PKiN) is a notable high-rise building in central Warsaw, Poland. With a total height of 237 metres (778 ft) it is the second tallest building in Poland after Varso, the 6th-tallest building in the European Union (including spire) and one of the tallest on the European continent.[1] Constructed in 1955, it houses various public and cultural institutions such as cinemas, theatres, libraries, sports clubs, university faculties and authorities of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Since 2007 it has been enlisted in the Registry of Objects of Cultural Heritage.

Palace of Culture and Science
Pałac Kultury i Nauki – PKiN
Palace of Culture and Science 20180817.jpg
Palace of Culture and Science in 2018
General information
Architectural styleSocialist realism, Stalinist architecture and art deco
LocationWarsaw, Poland
AddressPlac Defilad 1
Coordinates52°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 started2 May 1952
Completed22 July 1955
Architectural237 m (778 ft)
Antenna spire237 m (778 ft)
Roof187.68 m (615.7 ft)
Observatory114 m (374 ft)
Technical details
Floor count42
Floor area123,084 m2 (1,324,865 sq ft)
Design and construction
ArchitectLev Rudnev
Other information
Number of rooms3288

Motivated by Polish historical architecture and American art deco high-rise buildings, the PKiN was designed by Soviet Russian architect Lev Rudnev in "Seven Sisters" style and is informally referred to as the Eighth Sister. The Palace was also the tallest clock tower in the world until the installation of a clock mechanism on the NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building in Tokyo, Japan.



Palace in 1954, during construction

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Science (Pałac Kultury i Nauki imienia Józefa Stalina), but in the wake of destalinization the dedication to Stalin was revoked.[2] Stalin's name was removed from the colonnade, interior lobby and one of the building's sculptures.


Palace in 1960
South view of the Palace

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 3,500 to 5,000 Soviet workers and 4,000 Polish workers. Sixteen workers died in accidents during the construction.[3] The 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 "Przyjaźni" (Neighborhood of Friendship).[2][4] 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 travelling around Poland and seeing the architecture.[3] The monumental walls are headed with pieces of masonry copied from Renaissance houses and palaces of Kraków and Zamość.[3]

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.[5] 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.[6]

Four 6.3-metre (21 ft) clock faces were added to the top of the building ahead of the millennium celebrations in 2000. The clocks began working on 31 December 2000.[7]

Present dayEdit

The Palace of Culture and Science at night during Christmas market

The building currently serves as an exhibition centre and office complex. The Palace contains a multiplex cinema with eight screens,[8] four theatres (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 3,000 people called Congress Hall,[9] and an accredited university, Collegium Civitas, on the 11th and 12th floors of the building. The terrace on the 30th floor, at 114 metres (374 ft), is a well-known tourist attraction with a panoramic view of the city.[10]

The Congress Hall held the finals of Miss World 2006.[11]

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.[12] 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.[13] In December 2013, during the Euromaidan protests, it was illuminated in yellow and blue, the colours of the Ukrainian national flag as a sign of solidarity with the protesters.[14] On 29 January 2021, during the Women's Strike protests, the symbol of the movement – a single red bolt on a black background – has been projected on the building.[15]


The Palace of Culture and Science is a highly controversial building for some, and is often viewed as a reminder of Soviet influence over the Polish People's Republic, especially due to its construction during mass violations of human rights under Joseph Stalin.[16] Porozumienie Organizacji Kombatanckich i Niepodległościowych w Krakowie,[17] a coalition of veteran and nationalist groups, as well as Law and Justice (PiS) have called for its demolition.[18] In 2009, then Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski supported the demolition of the Palace noting the expense involved in its maintenance.[19] Other prominent government leaders have continued to endorse demolition plans, including current Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.[20] However, others rejected the idea noting that over the years the Palace became one of the symbolic buildings of Warsaw.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "History of the Palace" Archived 22 June 2019 at the Wayback Machine, 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. ^ a b c "History of PKiN in a nutshell". Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 25 July 2008.
  4. ^ Pałac Kultury i Nauki "Historia" Archived 20 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine at the PKN official website.
  5. ^ Timothy Tilghman. "The Stones Tumultuous 1967 European Tour". Retrieved 25 July 2008.
  6. ^ "Leonard Cohen in Warsaw (1985) by Daniel Wyszogrodzki". 22 March 1985. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
  7. ^ "Milenijny zegar odmierza czas już 12 lat". Retrieved 14 February 2021.
  8. ^ "Kinoteka: Wynajem sal". Archived from the original on 30 January 2015. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ "Pałac Kultury i Nauki w Warszawie". Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  11. ^ "Miss World 2006". Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  12. ^ "Stolica: ponad dwa miliony na oświetlenie Pałacu Kultury" (in Polish). Onet Wiadomości. 10 September 2010. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  13. ^ "Świąteczne oświetlenie Pałacu Kultury i Nauki w Warszawie" (in Polish). 23 December 2010. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  14. ^ "Pałac Kultury podświetlony w barwach Ukrainy [ZDJĘCIA]" (in Polish). Warszawa. 5 December 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  15. ^ "Pałac Kultury i Nauki w Warszawie z czerwoną błyskawicą. "Jesteśmy z Wami"". Retrieved 14 February 2021.
  16. ^ "The Movement to Destroy Warsaw's Tallest Building". Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  17. ^ "Ile wywrotek potrzeba, by wywieźć gruz po Pałacu Kultury i po cholerę w ogóle to robić?". Noizz (in Polish). 16 November 2017. Retrieved 14 February 2021.
  18. ^ "Tak wyglądałaby Warszawa bez Pałacu Kultury. Całkiem inne miasto? [PRZED i PO]". metro.waw (in Polish). Retrieved 14 February 2021.
  19. ^ "Call for demolition of Polish palace". 17 November 2009. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  20. ^ AFP, Pulse News Agency International by. "In Poland: Top politicos "dream" of demolishing Stalinist palace". Retrieved 19 October 2018.

Further readingEdit

  • Michał Murawski (2019), The Palace Complex: A Stalinist Skyscraper, Capitalist Warsaw, and a City Transfixed, Indiana University Press, ISBN 978-0-253-03996-5

External linksEdit