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Palace of Culture and Science: History of PKIN

History of PKIN

Facts & Figures:

Location:                                           Plac Defilad 1, Warszawa, Poland
Date of construction start up:          2 May 1952
Date of final construction works:      1955
Construction materials:                     stone, limestone
Altitude:                                            230,68 m – up to the top of the spire
                                                          167,68 m – to the base of the spire
Area:                                                 123 084 m 2 (1 324 876 ft 2)
Cubic Capacity:                                 817 000 m 3 (28 840 100 ft 3)
Number of floors:                              42
Viewing Platform:                              30 th floor at the altitude of 114 m
Number of rooms:                             3288

Joseph Stalin was the author behind the concept of constructing tall building as  a gift from Soviet Nation to Polish citizens.

Architect L. W. Rudniew wanted the sky-scraper to incarnate features of the Polish national style. In order to do this he tours well-known Polish cities and towns like Kraków, Chełm, Zamość  finding out about Polish architecture. The main architect presented a few projects and the Polish committee selected a 120 m building design, since their ambition exceeded that level it resulted in building a much bigger edifice.

3,500 Russian workers were employed for the construction site. There was a housing estate built for them together with facilities like: a cinema, a cafeteria, a public club and a swimming pool.There were 16 fatal accidents among Russians working at the construction. 

On 22 July, 1955  the Palace became available to “the whole society of Poland”. And this was the moment which Communist Propaganda turned into something resembling the instant when the Biblical Jews found their Promised Land. Since the opening the Palace has been acting as the Central Administration Building of the Capital City. Congress Hall became the meeting place of the Polish Communist Party.

The year of 1956 started a series of suicidal jumps from the sightseeing terrace on the 30 storey initiated by a French man. Seven Poles followed him. These incidents caused installation of a metal grid on the sightseeing terrace.

Through all those years all and every celebrity visiting Warsaw had to tour PKiN. Nikita Chruszczow initiated this tourist routine. We are honoured to list: Shah of Iran Reeza Pahlavi, Ho Chi Min –Leader of Vietnam, Kim Ir Sen – leader of North Korea.

The premiers of the plays by Gombrowicz and Mrożek took place there. The biggest stars were  singing here on the Palace stage, let’s name just a few: Rolling Stones, Louis Armstrong, Marlena Dietrich, Jan Kiepura, Leonard Cohen, Yves Montand, Paul Anka. Jurij Gagarin who lent out over the balustrade said: “so far from the earth” although he had already been further. In 1987 The High Mass was celebrated by the Pope John Paul II. It was held in the centre of the Defilad Square. We can multiply the examples of celebratory life of the Palace.

One of the most important moments took place in the Palace when on January 29th, 1990 during  the XI PZPR Convention held at the Congress Hall the Communistic Party was dissolved and the'flag was ordered to be got out'.

After the end of communism the Warsowians wanted to turn the PKIN into rubble as it was the pure emanation of the part era. However the practical approach to the venue won and the venue remained untouched. In 1991 a competition on “domesticating the PKiN” was announced. Since then there were many concepts of constructing the surrounding of the Palace. 

On the New Year’s Eve of 2000  the biggest tower clock was unveiled on top of the Palace of Culture, its 4 dials are of 6 m long diameter each. This Millenium Clock becomes also the highest tower clock in the world.

Nowdays in the Palace operate many institutions: three theatres: DramatycznyStudio and Lalka, Museum of Evolution and Museum of Technik, Kinoteka - the multiplex with 8 cinema screens. Many companies have their headquarters in the venue. PKIN is also a very useful conference centre with the Congress Centre available for 3000 delegates.

In spite of the competition going on the real estate market the Palace has been remaining the highest, the biggest, the most popular building in Poland and those features make the Palace win all the popularity polls. It can be described as a well-off 50 year old, rather stable and a little bit worn-out  as it happens in the lifecycle. Whatever we may say here the Palace constitutes irreplaceable part of Warsaw and the only landmark for the lost tourist somewhere in Ursynów District showing him/her the way to the City Centre.

In 2007 it was finnaly enlisted on the list of National Heritage and became the museum.

More information about PKIN: www.pkin.pl


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