Back in 2005, for my 25th birthday I got pissed up in a 4 star hotel in Warsaw, Poland drinking with Northern Ireland stars Keith Gillespie, Warren Feeney and Maik Taylor. That hotel was a posh one – The Intercontinental Hotel. It fitted the occasion, but the hotel itself looked out over a building much nicer – the Palace of Culture and Science. On this first visit to Poland I didn’t visit the Palace, simply photographed it from the bottom and wondered what it was. Two years later and much more enthusiastic I was suddenly in Warsaw Poland again! This time I was meeting some fantastic Polish friends – Artur, Rafal and Piotr. I knew we would visit the Palace of Culture and Science and I also knew I would learn the significance of this building. I put it simply in my own song I wrote about Poland and Communism: This a present from Stalin’s reign.
Poland was part of the Communist regime and Josef Stalin for one, wanted every major city in Eastern Europe to have something great. He wanted to build similar buildings for the people in the big cities to show his power. The Russians built them. Various cities were given them as a gift. I thought long and hard about this during my time in Communist countries, and I came to the conclusion that it was an unwanted gift showing left wing power, something which had since been taken away, but the present remained. The buildings remain untouched and are a great work of art, towering in cities such as Riga and Moscow and wonderful for the tourist eye. I was a fan of Stalin’s gift to Warsaw, even if my Polish mates despised it. I could see their point, but I promised I’d buy them a beer if they came to the top of The Palace of Culture and Science with me. I was keen to see the world from the very place where Russian communists first showed their architectural power in the Polish capital.
A lift took us up, there was no queue, certainly not many tourists and definitely worth the money. (Less than 20 Zlotys if I remember right – wouldnt stretch you £4!!) I loved the view, I signed my name into the realm of communism by adding my Northern Irish signature to the wall. I then got the SOE NISC fleg out for a photo. We then grabbed a relaxed beer and I started to plan a song on Communism in Poland (see the You Tube link), and more specifically I wanted to write some words about how this building was a present from Stalin, but they now have their own lives back. In a way, I’ll always know what I mean. My Polish friends will understand and that’s good enough for me. I tell you what it’s one of my favourite places in the world I’ve had a beer! From the Top of one of Stalin’s Towers! I’d already seen his towers in Moscow and Minsk, this was the third different location for me to experience the Stalin Architecture. Not that he designed it, or even put a brick in place. But I enjoyed it. Later in life, Rafal and I also visited Stalin’s Town – Gori in Georgia. So that’s it really – if you’re in Warsaw go up it. You’ll enjoy it.