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.
When it opened in 1829 Eastern State Penitentiary was one of the largest prison facilities built in the country. The penitentiary experimented with previously unheard ideas of incarceration that prioritized reformation over punishment. A form of solitary confinement was the rule, on the theory inmates would use the time for prayer, reflection and penitence. Despite the cost and efforts taken, the system was not a success and numerous challenges finally led it to close in the 1970s, but not before inspiring numerous similar prison systems around the world. Inmates formerly incarcerated here include arch-criminal Al Capone and bank robber Willie Horton. Although it stands today in crumbling condition, visitors will find it fascinating to explore the vaulted cell blocks and central rotunda.
Philadelphia's South Street is home to one of the most remarkable creations of art in the city. Known as the Magic Gardens, this work by artist Isaiah Zagar spans almost an entire block and engulfs everything in sight including the pathways and building walls. The continuously evolving work is a colourful riot and incorporates tiles, bottles, bicycle tires, spokes; pretty much anything you could think of. With this stunning landscape and installations, the artist draws you into his world for a peek into his mind. This one is not to be missed.
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 jewel of the Independence National Historic Park, the Liberty Bell spans layers and layers of long-standing history. In 1751, William Penn asked that the new bell being cast for the Pennsylvania Statehouse be engraved with the words, “Proclaim liberty throughout all the Land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” When the bell first rang to call citizens to the first reading of the Declaration of Independence, little did it know that it was going to change the course of the country forever. It was later dubbed the 'Liberty Bell' by abolitionists, who adopted the bell as a symbol of their fight for freedom for all Americans. A copper-clad, 2,080-pound (940-kilogram) icon of American independence, The Liberty Bell yet serves as a symbol of pride, inspiration and freedom.
One of the city's most unique parks and outdoor spaces, Race Street Pier stands close to the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, jutting out into the Delaware River. Manicured lawns cover one part of the pier, while a beautiful raised promenade occupies the rest of the space. From joggers in the morning to picnicking families and tourists looking for some calm by the river, the park sees a lot of visitors throughout the day, and is an excellent bet for people-watching. Panoramic vistas of the city make it a favorite hangout for photographers. Check website for more.
Gothic and neoclassical influences dominate the features of City Hall. The statue of William Penn that resides atop City Hall's clock tower remains a Philadelphia skyline marker—until the 1980s there was a "gentleman's agreement" that no Philadelphia building would be built higher than the rim of Penn's hat. City Hall provides a majestic backdrop for shoppers and businesspersons alike as it is situated on the intersection of the city's two main arteries, Broad and Market Streets. The tour of the City Hall lasts for 1.5 to 2 hours.
Wanamaker, established in 1902, is amongst the pioneer departmental stores in the country. Understandably a part of the National Register for Historic Places, it still continues to be one of the most important landmarks in Philadelphia. Located in the busy neighborhood of Chinatown, the building features some of the most unique artworks which include the humongous bronze eagle by August Gaul and the Wanamaker Organ, the largest known Court Organ in the world.
Philadelphia's history is deeply entwined with America's revolutionary period, the home to luminary Benjamin Franklin and the site of significant civic development for the then-fledgeling nation. The land changed hands repeatedly, first inhabited by the Lenape tribe before being seized by Dutch, Swedish and Finnish settlers. After several periods of conflict between these north European states, the territory was conquered by England. Philadelphia was instrumental to the early days of America's independence, an epoch-making past manifested in historic landmarks like the Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Notable resident Benjamin Franklin also made his mark on the civic landscape of America, founding the town's fire department and the colonies' first hospital. While Philadelphia's historic beginnings are undeniably significant, the city, which lies at the confluence of the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers, is also celebrated for its innate charm. One may find it in the urbane magic of Rittenhouse Square, in the gastronomical high that comes from biting into an authentic Philly Cheese Steak, or on the quiet cobbled streets of its leafy Old City. A historic city with a modern heart, Philadelphia is for those who want to connect with the landscape of America's revolution.
A dozen of international and domestic Tall Ships sail at the waterfront of Delaware River. This venue can be visited using a pass that provides access to the festival grounds, on board ship tours and unlimited activities in both Philadelphia and Camden. During the festival time, this waterfront is packed with loads of entertainment including dance, music, demonstrations, sail training and display of wide variety of crafty items.
Established in 1904 as the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel, The Bellevue has a comfortable life these days as a famous combination of office space, a popular shopping destination and accommodation facilities. The gorgeous structure is home to some of the best dining destinations in the city, including Boutros, Bliss, The Palm Restaurant, Tavern on Broad and many more in its impressive food court. A haven for shoppers, The Bellevue includes upscale boutiques and stores such as Tiffany & Co., Polo Ralph Lauren, Nicole Miller and Williams-Sonoma, to name a few, while the top five floors, offering a splendid view of the Quaker City, are allotted to the Park Hyatt. Whether you're looking for a top brand or want to dine at an elegant restaurant or even if you're looking for a luxury hotel - The Bellevue is the answer to all your questions.
Established in 1816, the Philadelphia Savings Fund Bank was the first savings bank to do business in the United States. By the 20th Century, the PSFS had attracted the largest amount of depositors anywhere in the country. With such great success, the bank had begun to outgrow itself, thus needing a new space to call home. In the 1920's, the PSFS made a monumental move and commissioned the most modern skyscraper of its time. Completed in 1932, the 30-story skyscraper was constructed using the finest materials and innovations including granite and marble throughout the interior of the building and a limestone covered tower on the exterior. Now revered as the first American skyscraper, the PSFS is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city. Although the bank eventually went under in the early 1990's, the building has maintained its historic place (including the famous PSFS sign atop the building) and is now the Loews Philadelphia Hotel.