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Palace of Culture (1959-1963): socialist-realist architecture

Photo: Municipality of Tirana Archive

Palace of Culture

Inspired by Rome and St. Petersburg


Demolishing power

The centre of Tirana was conceived as a monumental area by the Communist regime. To achieve this, the Old Bazaar, the old Town Hall, the Orthodox Cathedral and the old ensemble of shops, hotels, bars and traditional houses where demolished and replaced by imposing buildings such as the Palace of Culture, the Hotel Tirana, the National History Museum and a group of residential buildings. The only historical objects that were preserved, were the Ethem Bey Mosque, the old Clock Tower and the ministry buildings complex.

Palace of Culture

The Palace of Culture was built where the Old Bazaar had been. The first brick was laid by the Soviet president Nikita Krushov in 1959. Two years later, the Soviet specialists left Albania and the Palace of Culture was finished in 1963 by prominent local architects and engineers. The building is inspired by the Palace of Congress in Rome and the Finland Station in St. Petersburg. It hosts the National Library and the Albanian National House of Opera and Ballet.