This article is about the shifting relationship between the city of Warsaw and the Palace of Culture and Science – a gigantic Stalinist skyscraper which dominates the city centre – in the aftermath of the 10 April 2010 plane crash that killed the Polish president and 95 others (mostly very senior military and political figures) in the woods outside Smolensk in western Russia. The crash's victims had been on their way to a ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of a massacre in the Katyń forest, near Smolensk, during which thousands of Polish army officers were shot on the orders of Stalin. Despite its status as Warsaw's most obvious material relic of Russia's historical domination over Poland, the Palace of Culture has in the last two decades been gradually reappropriated into the city's own landscape and everyday life. In fact, since the fall of communism, the Palace has eclipsed the city's traditional emblems and monuments to become regarded as the most identifiable marker, or ‘symbol’, of the contemporary city. Further, the Palace has consolidated the tangible and powerful impact it exerts on the city's architecture and urban layout, on its political, bureaucratic, ‘cultural’, commercial and educational life, and on the bodies and minds of its citizens. The very word ‘palace’ is normally understood in Warsaw to refer to the Palace of Culture. For a time after Smolensk, however, the word acquired a new association with the Presidential Palace, where crowds gathered to lay flowers, light candles and stand vigil. The markedly muted presence in Warsaw of the Palace of Culture during the mourning period after Smolensk demonstrated that the happy interaction between post-socialist Warsaw and the rehabilitated Palace does not extend into every domain. The topography of mourning in Warsaw in the days after 10 April seemed to highlight the abject dimension of the Palace's uncanny presence in the city. This article explores why, how and for how long the Palace withdrew and was withdrawn from the life of the Warsaw after Smolensk.