For all the aggressive westernisation that has overcome Warsaw, the four decades of communism have yet to be completely erased from the face of Warsaw. You couldn’t miss this hulking giant of a landmark if you tried.
Lev Rudynev, the brains behind the equally monstrous Lomonosov University in Moscow, was put in charge of the design and set about making the building into one of the most notorious examples of Socialist Realist architecture in the world. Over 5,000 workers were ferried in from the Soviet states and housed in a purpose-built village in Jelonki, west Warsaw, where they were effectively cut off from the outside world. Working around the clock, it took them just three years to complete the Palace, which remained Poland's tallest building until 2021 (when it was eclipsed by nearby Varso Tower at 310m). In all 16 died during the construction, though despite the Olympian efforts of the labourers Stalin never lived to see his pet project completed.
Once inside the ground floor becomes a maze of halls and corridors, with chambers named after Eastern icons – Yuri Gagarin, Marie Skłodowska-Curie (a communist sympathiser), etc. Brass chandeliers hang over clacking parquet flooring, secret lifts lie hidden around and allegorical socialist reliefs take inspiration from ancient mythology – it’s easy to imagine Bond snooping around planting listening devices.