Palace of Culture & Science

Top choice historic building in Powiśle & Northern Śródmieście

Image by Shan Shui Getty Images

Love it or hate it, every visitor to Warsaw should visit the iconic, socialist realist PKiN (as its full Polish name is abbreviated). This ‘gift of friendship’ from the Soviet Union was built in the early 1950s, and at 231m high remains the tallest building in Poland. It's home to a huge congress hall, theatres, a multiscreen cinema and museums. Take the high-speed lift to the 30th-floor (115m) observation terrace (taras widokowy) to take it all in.

The building has never sat well with the locals, who have branded it with one uncomplimentary moniker after another – the 'Elephant in Lacy Underwear', a reference both to the building's size and the fussy sculptures that frill the parapets, is a particular favourite. However, though there are occasional calls for it to be demolished, the Palace is gradually becoming accepted (even embraced) as a city icon.