Palace of Culture and Science competes with the Warsaw Mermaid as the symbol of Warsaw. It is the tallest „Polish” building in the capital - 234,5 metres high with the largest surface interior of any building in Poland. It is mostly scorned by the Warsovians as it reminds them of their almost forty five years of Russian occupation. It is also rather controversial in style. Some people regard it interesting, many consider it „junk” and the majority try to ignore it. Several plans have been put forward to either remove it or change it but all this costs money. So it remains, a sort of landmark, however offensive to some. Now that what it actually represents is slowly forgotten by the younger generation it has become accepted and is used for concerts, exhibitions and as a viewing point over Warsaw. Its distinctive shape is visible from 20 km, if not more, and is therefore handy as an orientation point. There are three well known theatres in the Palace, the Dramatyczny, the Lalka and the Studio. It contains a modern leisure centre, a swimming pool, disco, Casino. It also houses Warsaw’s largest entertainment arena - the Sala Kongresowa, once used for communist party meetings. Today the Sala hosts many cultural events, the International Book Fair, the Warsaw Jazz Jamboree, rock concerts, TT Warsaw - the International Tourist Fair.
The building was constructed between 1952-1955 and presented to the Polish people as a gift from Stalin. A ’non returnable’ gift of friendship, in fact a symbol of Russian occupation. It is deceptively large, constructed from over 40 million bricks with a surface area of over 80 000 m3. It is slowly being dwarfed by more modern but no less ugly skyscrapers and will one day ’disappear’.
The Museum of Science
- Entry from Jerozolimskie Av. Reserve an hour here
as there is a lot of to see. The museum has a collection of ’technical miracles’ from the past. Among them there is the famous Enigma coding machine. This German invention was cracked by Polish scientists. Take a look at ’the Glass Lady’, a presentation of the body organs (additional charge 2 zł). Sit down in the Planetarium and watch the stars and planets in the Polish night sky.
The Viewing Point. It takes about 25 seconds in the lift to get up to the 30th floor (wait another 5 seconds for your stomach to catch up, and vice versa going down!). From here you have a splendid view of Warsaw, the highest view in Poland even! Only recommended in good weather and if its windy it can be VERY cold. Cafe, shops and toilet facilities at the top. Tel. +48 22 656 76 00. Tickets 18 zł , reduced 12 zł. It is also a popular spot for summer exhibitions. It depends on the temperature but an hour or so would be quite sufficient.
TIP! With a telephoto lens the Old Town can be picked out quite nicely.