Warsaw's communist "palace" turns 55

Thu Jul 22, 2010 8:16am EDT
 
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WARSAW (Reuters Life!) - Some say it is an ugly and unwelcome reminder of the post-war Soviet domination of Poland and should be pulled down.

But others believe it's a part of history for better or worse and should be left alone.

The debate has resurfaced in the run-up to Thursday's 55th birthday of the huge neo-Gothic Palace of Culture and Science in downtown Warsaw, a legacy of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

Constructed between 1952 and 1955, the palace was once Europe's tallest building and features a mix of Socialist realism, art deco and classicism.

Many Poles hated it in the years before the collapse of communism but most seem to have softened their views now.

"Tearing it down makes no sense. It became an integral part of Warsaw's skyline through several decades," said Jan Lipszyc walking down a street in the city center.

"The architecture is rather awful, but it's a remembrance of its times."

Warsaw wants to overshadow the palace, which has 42 storeys and 3,288 rooms, surrounding it with modern skyscrapers.

"I got used to it. I think it's a symbol of Warsaw and it should stay as it is. It doesn't bother me at all," said another passer-by, Renata Franczak.   Continued...