Due to its spellbinding architecture and sheer grandeur, Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul is a must-visit place on the list of every tourist in Philadelphia. This beautiful cathedral is the centerpiece of one of the largest Catholic populations in North America. It was designed by celebrated architect Napoleon LeBrun and constructed between 1846 and 1864 by blending Palladian and Italian Renaissance architectural styles. A beautiful “baldachin” or “canopy” over the altar is evidence of the Italian influence while the church façade is in the Palladian style. In fact, you may be forgiven for thinking you are in Europe while viewing this glorious cathedral. Embark on an audio tour and learn more about its eight chapels, 2000-seat sanctuary, vaulted copper dome, and a spectacular apse featuring red marble carvings and stained glass work. During the tour, you will also be familiarized with the fascinating history of the basilica. As Pennsylvania's largest Catholic church, this monument is recorded in the National Register of Historic Places.
Spread across 933 acres (377.57 hectares), Brandywine Creek State Park was established in 1965. It features four nature preserves, including Tulip Tree Woods, Flint Woods, the Carney Tract, and the FreshWater Marsh, along with bike trails, pavilions, an interpretive center, hiking trails, picnic spots, and a disc golf course. Some of the activities that you can enjoy here are geocaching, canoeing, mountain biking, birdwatching, and fishing. Comprising old growths of tulip poplar, Piedmont hardwood, and coniferous trees towering over lush green shrubs and blankets of spring wildflowers, Brandywine Creek State Park makes for an idyllic weekend destination to enjoy the Great Outdoors.
Formerly the largest prison facility in America, the Eastern State Penitentiary is now Philadelphia’s major tourist attraction. What was once the most expensive prison in the country now stands in ruins, but that does not stop curious tourists from visiting the attraction. A first-of-its-kind, the penitentiary implemented previously unheard ideas of incarceration, which prioritized reformation over punishment. Today, the vaulted cell blocks and central rotunda invite many a tourists keen on knowing the eventful history of this fascinating establishment. What adds to the curiosity of the masses is the fact that the prison was home to notorious inmates such as ‘Slick Willie’ Sutton and Al Capone.
Spreading across 9200 acres (3723.11 hectares) with 63 parks, Fairmount Park is among the biggest city park systems in the nation. It features picturesque trails, rolling hills, streams, historical structures, woodlands, public arts and more. The Centennial Arboretum, Horticulture Center, Japanese House and Garden and Philadelphia Museum of Art are some of the interesting sites located in this massive expanse. It also has recreational centers and sporting fields.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art features over 240,000 objects filled with treasures spanning across continents and cultures, drawn from a collection of more than 400,000 works of art like prints, drawings and photographs. The huge stone edifice of the museum, supported by majestic Doric columns, looks over the Schuylkill River. Scale the steps made famous in the 'Rocky' movies.
A working-class Philadelphian himself, Dr Albert Coombs Barnes established the foundation in 1922 to promote appreciation of the fine arts among the common man. Over the years, the Barnes Foundation has procured one of the most noteworthy collections of early French modern and post-impressionist paintings in the world. Works by artists like Renoir, Cezanne, Monet, Picasso and Rousseau are part of the collection. The collection has only toured once and then only a fraction of it was sent out. It is necessary to call ahead for a reserved admission ticket.
The Germantown Mennonite Church, established circa 1690, is North America's oldest living Mennonite congregation. It hosted North America's first gathering of Mennonites in 1725 and served as the home of a summer school taught by pioneer educator Christopher Dock in the 1730s. The Mennonite heritage promotes peace and personal responsibility through the worship of God. The Congregation transcends differences of ethnicity, race, gender, sexual identity, physical ability, marital status and class.
Since 1979, the Horticultural Center has augmented the variety of its botanical life by collecting seeds from Asia, Europe, and the West Indies. Permanent and seasonal plantings display over 2,000 examples of flora. The center is located in Fairmount Park. On the grounds there is a Shofuzo-a reproduction of a 17th-Century Japanese middle-class house and Japanese garden. A donation of $1 is suggested.
The Goldie Paley Gallery at Moore College of Art and Design features contemporary art, architecture, photography and crafts by national and international artists. The mission of the gallery is to seek out and present works of art that might not otherwise be seen by the Philadelphia community. Goldie Paley Gallery inspires creative thought by featuring artists who are not always in the mainstream of cultural consciousness, but whose art is often cutting-edge and profound.
This is the centre for Jewish life in Philadelphia, located at the University of Pennsylvania, this facility was set up to promote the Jewish culture in America. They have services and lectures explaining the various aspects of Jewish tradition and cultures. The Penn Hillel even has parties and social events for the Jewish people. It fosters a warm community that is always open to new ideas and initiatives. Invitation is given to any person willing to learn about the faith and culture.
The Bergdoll House was owned by the Bergdoll's family that was touted to be one of the most affluent families around. This luxurious and classy structure speaks volumes about the owners riches and good taste. A blend of Beaux Arts and Italianate style of architectural design, it was included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Currently, it has been transformed in to a modern apartment.