|Vol. 16: Neon Signs in Warsaw (2): Casino Signs in the Palace of Culture|
There is a vast building in central Warsaw, some 37 stories high, known as the Palace of Culture. It was built as a gift from Stalin in 1952, and it has a terrible reputation among the people of Warsaw, with its authoritarian, overbearing facade. It is sometimes referred to as gthe gravestone of Warsaw built by the Soviet Union,h and the local guide told me that there were rumors going around that prostitutes were plying their trade inside the building.
I have no idea whether these rumors have any basis in fact, but, walking around the area after dinner, I saw neon signs which hardly seemed appropriate to a location with the name of gPalace of Culture.h The sign in the photograph is clearly advertising a casino, but I saw no trace of anyone in the vicinity and the whole area was as silent as the grave.
Perhaps because casinos serve as a source of income for Eastern European countries suffering under the effects of a shortage of foreign currency reserves, they seemed to be operating in the hotels in every country I visited. I took a peek into the casino at the Atrium Hotel where I was staying in Prague, and it transpired that our Japanese party were the only guests there that night. I canft imagine how they can possibly make ends meet when there are more staff on duty than guests.
After returning to Japan, I discovered that there had previously been a state-run nightclub in the basement of the Palace of Culture, although it has now passed into private hands.