This July we celebrate the 65th birthday of the Palace of Culture and Science, probably the most recognizable building in Warsaw. Have you ever wondered what’s inside? I guess it would take ages to mention everything. There are as many as 3288 rooms, hosting (among other things) a cinema, a swimming pool, theaters, museums and even a university.
What is more the Palace has its own... inhabitants! They moved in long before the building was ready to be used. Cats. Currently they all live underground (the building has 46 stories, including 2 underground).
But the Palace is also home to peregrine falcons (who have had a nest under the spire since 1998), kestrels (15th floor) and bees (there’s an apiary on the rooftop of Teatr Studio, on the 6th floor).
Talking about the spire, the Palace used to be 230,68 meters tall (which made it the second highest building in Europe at the time it was built), but in 1994 it grew a bit, because an antenna base was added to the spire. Nowadays it is 237 meters tall and it’s the 19th tallest in Europe.
There’s an observation deck on the 30th floor, at the height of 114 meters, open daily from 10 a.m. till 8 p.m. The lifts will take you there from the ground floor in just 19 seconds. By the way, if you notice a sign saying “WINDY”, it doesn’t warn you against poor weather conditions. It’s Polish for “lifts”. (To learn more about words that are similar in Polish and English, but have different meanings, watch our short video on 'false friends')
But the height of the building is not the only thing that has changed over time. Originally there was no clock on the top of the building, it was added on New Year’s Eve 2000. There are 4 clock faces with the emblem of Warsaw on them, the Mermaid of Warsaw. But even more surprisingly, the well-known grey color is actually not the original color of the Palace! It used to be light beige, but over time it’s simply become...dirty.
At the end of June 2018 works on cleaning the 30th floor began. There were plans to clean the entire building to make it look like in the 50's, but the whole process would cost a fortune. Cleaning and renovating the observation deck alone is estimated to cost about one million zlotys! (And that’s not the only costly thing about the Palace. It consumes a lot of energy: it needs as much power as a town inhabited by 30 thousand people!)
Every year some 680 thousand people that visit the observation deck to see the skyline of Warsaw. Every Friday and Saturday from May to September the deck is open until 11:30 p.m., allowing tourists to enjoy the view over Warsaw by night.