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.
Union Transfer is a joint collaboration of Four Corners Management, R5 Productions and The Bowery Presents. Housed in a historic brick structure dating back to 1889, this music venue opened in 2011 and is now among the prominent concert spaces in town. It features three fully equipped bars and a few concession stands. Most of their shows are for all ages. Some of their previous listings are Metermaids, Jello Biafra, The Antlers, Mischief Brew, Sage Francis and Guantanamo School of Medicine.
Sit on the sloping lawn or in the reserved boxes under the high shed awning. Pick up a drink or some food from the stalls by the back fence—everything from hot dogs to a full-course salmon dinner served by waiters. This outdoor stage is the summer home to the Philadelphia Orchestra, plus a schedule of jazz, rock, big band, the Philly Pops, opera, theatre, and dance. The acoustics can be unreliable and Philadelphia's erratic weather can be a problem, but you can sit in Fairmount Park, hear a good show, and look at the soft night lights of the downtown skyline.
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.
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.
Originally a floating festival of new American musicals, the Prince a permanent home to new work. New pieces by Laurie Anderson and Philip Glass, cabaret by Patti Lupone, a repertory film series, and the occasional visiting dance company make this converted movie theater an easy place to find something to do. Named for Harold Prince, the legendary Broadway director and a frequent visitor to the stage.
If you want to improve your bowling score at a hip teenage hangout, get over here. State-of-the-art lanes, pool tables, VIP lounge, and a scrumptious menu are some of the features. Chicken rolls, shrimps, skewered meats, pizzas, salads, sandwiches, desserts, and more, greet hungry players. You can book the place for a private celebration too.
Located in Center City Philadelphia, the Dilworth Park is a 120,557 square foot (11,200 square meter) area public park with lush a green lawn, trees and an interactive fountain which converts into a skating rink in the winter. Favorite among kids and adults alike, this park is the perfect place to seek time in solitude while enjoying being surrounded by greenery and listening to the sounds of excitement in the voices of the kids playing nearby. Scattered throughout the park are areas with works of art on display and laws that are designated picnic areas, while certain tree grove areas have selected tree species conducive to the city. The park also doubles up as a rental space for art festivals, weddings and exhibitions.
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.
As the largest fully-functioning pipe organ in the world, the Wanamaker Organ has serenaded visitors to the Wanamaker Building with special concerts since 1911. Although ownership of the building has since changed over to Macy's, the organ can still be viewed and heard in all its splendor. The Wanamaker Organ is played at least twice daily Monday through Saturday, so be sure to stop by and hear it in person.