Philadelphia was founded by representatives of the Christian Quaker movement on the site of an old Swedish settlement. In the first years of the city’s existence, immigrants from different European countries arrived here. Within 100 years, the city has become one of the largest North American colonies.
Philadelphia is known all over the world due to the fact that the independence of the United States of America was proclaimed here in 1776. The main attractions are associated with this grand event: Independence Hall, Liberty Bell, the National Constitution Center. The entire history of the city is imbued with the spirit of freedom, democracy and civil society.
There are also museums and galleries in Philadelphia that display valuable works of art. Their rich collections attract a considerable number of tourists every year.
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What to see and where to go in Philadelphia?
The most interesting and beautiful places for walking. Photos and a short description.
In 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed at Independence Hall, in 1787 – the US Constitution. Today, the building is part of the historic park, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The building was built in 1753 according to the design of E. Woolley and E. Hemilton in the Gregorian style. After the reconstruction in 1820, Independence Hall acquired the features of classicism, but in 1950 it was returned to its historical appearance.
One of the main symbols of the struggle for freedom. In 1776, a bell ringing summoned the citizens of Philadelphia to announce the Declaration of Independence. The total weight of the bell is about 950 kg, its diameter is 3.7 meters. Since 1976, it has been housed in a specially built pavilion (previously, the alarm was in one of the halls of Independence Hall). Every year on 4th July, on Independence Day, the bell is struck 13 times.
Philadelphia town hall
The town hall was erected in the late 19th – early 20th centuries by D. MacArthur Jr. in the architectural style of the Second Empire. It was planned that this building will be the largest in the world, but during the construction process it was surpassed by the Eiffel Tower. The town hall is crowned with an 11-meter statue of the founder of the city, W. Penn. The building is listed as a US National Historic Landmark.
Eastern State Prison
The prison existed from 1829 to 1969. It contained many well-known criminals. Until 1993, the prison buildings stood in desolation, in 1994 a museum was opened on the territory, which today is visited by several tens of thousands of people a year. In 1929, the famous gangster Al Capone was sitting here. Tourists can view his cell, elegantly furnished with wooden furniture.
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens
The romantic name “Magic Gardens” is an unusual house located on one of the city streets. Its walls are completely covered with pieces of tiles and glass, and the courtyard is a whimsical labyrinth with stairs, grottoes and terraces. The avant-garde artist I. Zagar, who lived in Latin America for a long time, had a hand in the creation of this amazing place.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The gallery was founded in 1876. Its opening was timed to coincide with the World Exhibition, the date of which coincided with the centenary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Since 1928, the museum has been housed in a monumental classical building on Benjamin Franklin Parkway. His collection contains over 200 thousand works of art brought from different continents. There are research laboratories and a library at the museum.
B. Franklin, a politician and leader of the American Revolutionary War, was also a good inventor. It was his work that formed the basis of the Franklin Institute museum collection. It also presents inventions of scientists of the 18th – 20th centuries and innovative technologies of our time. The museum has a planetarium and the Dinosaur Hall, which will be especially interesting for visitors with children.
The foundation is a museum and art school. It was founded in 1922 by collector and inventor A.C. Barnes in the Philadelphia suburb of Merion. In the 1990s, the foundation was moved to the city center, as the original location was unfortunate. The museum exhibits a collection of French paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries, including works by Matisse, Cézanne and Renoir. There are also ancient artifacts and arts and crafts from America and Europe.
The museum’s collection is dedicated to the work of the French sculptor O. Rodin, who made an invaluable contribution to world art. In addition to the master’s works, the gallery exhibits prints, letters and books. The idea to found the museum belonged to the philanthropist J. Mastbaum, who collected Rodin’s works and wanted to donate his collection to the city. Unfortunately, it never made it to the opening in 1929.
Mutter Medical History Museum
A natural science museum dedicated to medical pathologies located at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. In addition to biological exhibits (preserved organs and tissues), antique equipment and wax models are exhibited here. The collection was created for scientific purposes, but then it turned into a museum open to everyone.
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology
The collection of the museum consists of exhibits that were found during archaeological expeditions of the early XX century. Scientists have visited Africa, Mesopotamia, Latin America and East Asia, from where they brought many interesting artifacts: mummies, Indian religious objects, musical instruments, antique coins and other antiquities. There were about 400 such expeditions in total.
Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
Philadelphia Conservatory, where the local symphony orchestra performs. The building was built in 2001 by the American architect R. Vignoli. The center consists of two halls: the first can accommodate 2.5 thousand spectators, the second – 650. The main architectural element of the building is an impressive glass dome, made up of several dozen arches fastened together.
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
The Academy was founded in 1805 with the aim of developing and supporting the fine arts by a group of Pennsylvania patrons and painters. Painting classes began in 1810, and in 1811 the museum organized its first exhibition. Towards the end of the 19th century, the academy moved into a two-story mansion built in a luxurious Victorian style. Today this educational institution is considered one of the best in the field of art.
University of Pennsylvania
The university was founded in the middle of the 18th century as a charitable school even before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Benjamin Franklin himself became its first leader. The names of many political figures who have played an important role in US history are associated with this educational institution. Some of the university’s faculties and laboratories are housed in picturesque Gothic and Victorian buildings.
Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul
The temple was built in 1846 on the model of the Lombard Church of St. Charles, which is located in Rome. The building has pronounced classical features: a row of Corinthian columns on the central facade, a triangular pediment and a round central dome. The interior decoration is luxurious and diverse: the ceiling is lined with mosaics, the dome over the altar is made of Italian marble, the benches for the parishioners are made of walnut.
Philadelphia Masonic Temple
The headquarters and main temple of the Pennsylvania Grand Masonic Lodge, which receives thousands of visitors annually. Meetings of this order are held here regularly. The building was built in 1873 according to the design of H. D. Norman in the neo-Renaissance style. The unusual architecture and rich interior make the Masonic temple one of the most picturesque in Pennsylvania. Moreover, it is a National Historic Landmark.
Church of christ
The temple was erected in the 18th century in the Gregorian style, following the pattern of London churches. Even in the colonial era, it became an important spiritual center of the state, as it was often visited by prominent political figures: D. Washington, B. Franklin, T. Jefferson, as well as 15 patriots and revolutionaries who later signed the United States Declaration of Independence. The grave of B. Franklin is located in the churchyard.
National Constitution Center
A museum entirely dedicated to the American Constitution. Its collection consists of photographs, texts and presentations that tell about the history of this document and its importance for the entire nation. Museum halls are imbued with the spirit of patriotism, which even foreign tourists can easily pick up. After examining the collection, it becomes clear why Americans are instilled with an active civic position from childhood.
Betsy Ross House
It is believed that it was Betsy Ross who became the author of the American flag (its first version, where 13 stars symbolizing the states are located in a circle). Although many historians doubt that it was Betsy who came up with the design of the banner, no one officially refutes this version. There is a museum named after this woman in one of the city houses near the historical park. Her grave is located in the courtyard under a large elm tree.
One of the oldest streets in the United States, which was built up in 1728 – 1836. Also here is the building of the old station. Each building is unique in its own way, all together they create the atmosphere of the past centuries and send the tourist to the past: to the colonial era, the first years of independence, as well as the difficult period of the Great Depression. Elfreth Alley is a National Historic Landmark.
Philadelphia train station
The largest and busiest station in Pennsylvania, which receives dozens of trains every day from different cities in the United States. The architecture of the building has some features of the classical style, but on the whole the building looks grand and rather laconic. The station was built in the 1930s. It became the last railway station to be designed in such a monumental manner.
Reading Terminal Market
Large covered market where you can buy a variety of farm products and ready meals. There is also a large selection of seafood and delicacies produced by the Amish religious community. Once upon a time there was a station building on the site of the market, so here you can not only have a tasty lunch, but also admire the historical interiors. Even if purchases are not included in the plans, it is just pleasant to wander around the market.
Citizens Bank Park
The baseball stadium where the Philadelphia Phillies play. The arena was built to replace the old Veterans Stadium, which was closed in 2004. The stands of Citizens Bank Park can accommodate about 44,000 spectators. Near the stadium, there are sports fields for American football, basketball and baseball. A large parking space and convenient entrances are organized for visitors.
A 92-acre park where exotic and rare plants grow. Its territory is divided into four zones: Rose Garden, Japanese Garden, English Garden and Swan Lake. The park is landscaped in a Victorian style. The Morris Arboretum is perfect for relaxing walks with family or friends. To enjoy the beauty of nature, you need to set aside a few hours to visit the park.
The city zoo is considered the oldest in the United States – it was created in the early 19th century. Dozens of animal species from all over the world live on its territory: pandas, polar bears, white lions and other rare specimens. In total, more than 2000 individuals live here. The animals are placed in spacious open-air cages, which makes them feel quite free. The zoo has a comfortable infrastructure for visitors.