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- The iconic building of Warsaw. But also a disheartening example of politically-dictated architectureThe Palace of Culture was built in 1955, during the Communist era. At the time it was the tallest building in Poland, at 276 metres; nowadays other tall skyscrapers have risen around it, but this building still appears so enormous and massive as to raise astonishment and admiration. The Poles don’t like it because of the sad memories it evokes, and voices arise from time to time asking for its demolition; but demolition would be nonsensical because this building has in the meantime become the iconic landmark of Warsaw, like the Eiffel Tower in Paris. In fact you can spot it from nearly everywhere in town, even from kilometres of distance and, if you arrive by plane from the north, before landing you can clearly see its silhouette dominating the centre of the city. During your visit to Warsaw you will often pass by it, and you would do well to spend half an hour to take a look at this extraordinary example of architecture promoted by the regime.
The Palace of Culture looks in many ways similar to the famous State University of Moscow. Actually it was designed by the same architect (Lev Rudnev) and was offered to Poland by the Soviet Union on the occasion of the meeting which led to the foundation of the “Warsaw pact”, the eastern military organization which opposed the western “NATO” during the “cold war”.
The building is so massive that it resembles a megalithic construction, so much so that one cannot discard the idea that it was designed to withstand bombing or shelling in case of war. The adjectives that better describe it are: “colossal”, “imposing” and even “disquieting”, like the castle of the ogre in the children’s novels.
Seen from a distance, the building appears like an isolated skyscraper within a vast and empty esplanade; but as you get closer you discover that the skyscraper is inextricably connected with an immense block of lower buildings that surround its base and presumably measures 300 meters in length and 200 in width. This block is so large that you have to walk about 1 kilometre to go around it; the buildings that are part of it have a very bombastic aspect and are gigantic in all their parts; they house a large number of cultural institutions, including three theatres, a library, an auditorium for 3000 people, a multiplex cinema, some museums and others.
The style of the skyscraper has been defined as “socialist realism with art-deco components" but if you explore the complex surrounding its base you will come across other styles; the prevailing is the “neoclassic", with a great abundance of colonnades, Corinthian capitals, semicircular apses and triangular tympanums, all elements borrowed from the Roman architecture of the imperial period. Of course you may wonder why you should waste your time in looking at such bizarre architecture, but in my opinion the effort is worth because this is a very telling example of the “monstruosities” that were created in Europe during the 20th century by the authoritarian regimes, be they right or left. It was an architecture characterized by magniloquence and obsessive recourse to gigantism, aimed at exhibiting the magnificence of the regime and arouse a reverential awe in the crowds: you can find other conspicuous examples of it in Nuremberg (at the former headquarters of the nazi party), in Rome (at the EUR) and in Bucharest (in the former presidential palace). As might be expected, when artistic creation is not supported by inspiration but merely complies with the instructions given by the regime, bombast and gigantism can easily degenerate into grotesque: it can be seen in this complex, where the columns are a bit too "fat", and the colossal statues - far from appearing solemn and hieratic as they should be - appear instead as lost and lifeless characters.
After making a tour around this architectural mammoth you can also ascend to the 30th floor of the tower, where there is a lookout terrace and a really unsurpassable panorama. Entrance is from the “Defilade” square. You will pay 20 Zloty (a bit more than 4 €), and you may possibly face endless queues to buy the tickets, to take the lift up and then to take the lift down, especially during the summer weekends. At the entrance of the building there is no reception counter and it is not clear how to proceed. There are toilets in the basement but, when I was there, they were in pitiful conditions.
The building is located right in the centre of the city, near the Central Railway Station. It raises in the middle of an immense esplanade and is fronted by an equally immense square called “Defilade” which, as the name says, was intended to serve as a theatre for the parades of the Communist regime.Written August 30, 2022This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
- Huge building that is surprisingly easy to miss on Krakowskie Przedmiescie because there are so many fine buildings. You can walk around some parts of it for free.Written October 19, 2021This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
- Small, but important reminder of Warsaw’s Jewish History. It is the only pre-WWII synagogue still standing. The interior is simple, but beautiful example of the time period. The synagogue is still in use by the Jewish Community. Full visit is about 20 minutes.Written November 8, 2019This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
- The orangery is one of the most beautiful buildings in Lazienki Park. It has a museum there now which we didnt visit to be honest, but we did spend time in the gardens which were quite wonderful.
Lazienki is a gem, it really is and strolling around it is a real joy. The Orangery may be one of its finest buildings but there are so many more to see.Written August 15, 2019
- This, relatively small, church was built by order of queen mary by the Dutch architect Tylman von Gameren, also known as Gamerski. It is baroque in style and is located next to the market square of the New Town.Written April 15, 2019
- This impressive palace was located next to our hotel, Sofitel. The building is considered one of the most distinguished examples of rococo architecture in Warsaw.
The palace was completed in 1705 but in 1939 it burned after being shelled by German artillery. The building was reconstructed in 1948-59.
Today, it houses the Academy of Fine Arts. There are 30,000 works from all fields of visual art: painting, sculpture, graphics, drawing, posters, architecture, artistic crafts, and industrial design. The museum is located in the palace's attic.Written June 14, 2022
- This striking Neo-Renaissance viaduct allows descending from the hill. It was completed in 1905. The viaduct is known for the many beautiful sculptures that attract attention.
The patron of the viaduct is Stanislaw Markiewicz, a doctor and social activist, and one of the founders of the Warsaw Hygiene Society. He was also the organizer of the first summer camps for children in Poland.Written June 16, 2022
- The building has been demolished and there is only a construction site to be seen. I liked the building, as it was a meeting point used by hundreds of people.Written August 30, 2017
- Heavy fighting took place around this building during the war. While reconstruction of the Old Town was proceeding it was decided to leave one section of the facade in the damaged extent, as it was at war's end.
It is a powerful symbol and very redolent of troubled times. The pockmarks of war are plain to see.Written June 24, 2017
- Very famous and loved Polish Composer. Museum worth a visit. It is interactive museum with special section for kids. Very interesting overall. Plus beautiful architecture inside the Palace. Next to the Palace is a fountain with duck sculpture as this part of Warsaw is connected to the Legend of a Golden Duck. Pretty walk in a park. It is half way down Tamka street and very close to Royal Tract though it is easy to miss. Look for very high walls.Written November 3, 2014
- The form of the palace was interesting and the location; in the middle of the lazier like park. Beautiful placeWritten July 27, 2018
- The elevator, lake of instruction for first time users, up/down some time before.....
Cool view from the 48. floor this time :)Written October 30, 2019
- I stopped here during my walk along the Royal Route. It has an excellent location, with the building facing the main street itself. Located in front of it, is the statute of Copernicus, a great Polish inventor.
Took some selfies here with this Palace and Statute in the background.Written September 9, 2018
- The Palace has had an eventful life. A number of owners changed the style and of course during the war it suffered. It is currently the home for segments of state archives.
The Neo-Classical facade is most attractive and impressive. The detail of stonework craft is tremendous. The foyer has wonderful vaulted ceilings.Written June 25, 2017
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