Monday, 24 June 2013

Diametrically opposite views of the Palace of Culture

Here it is again - the calling-card of Our City, Stalin's Gift to the People of Poland, the Palace of Culture and Science, the very centre of Warsaw. Two, very different views from two places on either side of the landmark.

Below: on a sunny Friday afternoon; seen from the 13th floor of Warsaw Financial Center. To the left, the Palace of Culture. In the centre, the Intercontinental Hotel, with its characteristic 'leg', cut out to allow sunlight onto the blocks in its shadow. To the right, Daniel Liebeskind's Zlota 44, now approaching completion. Compared to the vigour of contemporary architecture, Stalin's Gift, ash-grey and pallid, looks threatening, alien and invasive.

Below: view from Rondo Dmowskiego, named after the man who invented the rondo ('roundabout'), back in 1910. A thundercloud is brooding overhead. From here, we cannot see the Warsaw Financial Center (165m) on the corner of Świętokrzyska and Emilii Plater. Tall towers from left to right: Skylight (105m, rising above the Złote Tarasy shopping mall), Złota 44 (192m), Rondo ONZ 1 (192m), the Interconti (164m), the Palace of Culture (231m), and the Cosmopolitan building (Twarda 2/4, 157m). Keep on building UP, Warsaw! One day, Stalin's Gift will be surrounded!

This time last year:
Renault's electric urban runabout (now on sale in Poland)

This time four years ago:
On foot to Limanowa

This time five years ago:
Crumbling neo-classicism in Grabów

This time six years ago:
Bike ride into deepest Mazovia


Anonymous said...

The palace looks best when photographed frontally. And then a drunk American may even confuse it with the Empire State Building...

Anonymous said...

2 things

1. As many in Warsaw say, the best view of 'Joe's Place' is right from the top so you can't see it's blight on the city.

2. Interesting that a Pole invented the 'rondo' - makes me wonder why very few understand how to use them.

Michael Dembinski said...

Anon 2:

There are competing claims as to who invented the Rondo. The French claim it was a young Charles De Gaulle, while studying at the École Supérieure des Ingenieures Militaires, devised a better way to route military transports at busy junctions, back in 1909. The generous Varsovians have recognised this by naming a Rondo after him too!

Anonymous said...

Nonsense! It was George Washington (last thing before he died - he invented the roundabout)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous - you're mistaking the American president, George Washington, with the Polish-Uktrainian Jew, Jerzy Waszyngton - who really DID invent the roundoabout!

Michael Dembinski said...

@ the last two Anons:

I think the United Nations Office of Road Traffic Management devised the Rondo in its current format, hence Rondo ONZ.