Three visits to Pennsylvania, all of them just passing by.
The first one allowed the visit of Harrisburg, in the way to Washington DC.
Brief visits that were enough to understand the weight of tradition and agriculture in the state.
The Axis of Town
A beautiful avenue connects City Hall with the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Too long to walk, it is a good reference for orientation, and it’s easy to see, using the hop on hop off buses, stopping in the most convenient locations, to visit its most interesting points.
The centre of Logan square is occupied by a fountain with native figures representing the waterways in the area and a few animals, conceived by Alexander Stirling.
The Nest of a Nation
Revered by the American, this old (very old, in American scale) building is a landmark in their history, and a reference to democracy. Don’t expect astonishing sights, just the authenticity and the respectful image for a short but brilliant history.
Visiting Philadelphia without a photo by the bell is a sin.
Yes, it is there. Yes, it is broken. Yes, it is well guarded, forcing us to the now common gymnastics of taking off belts, shoes, and everything suspicious or not.
I know, that, despite having less than three centuries, it means, for the American, the same than D. Afonso Henriques sword for the Portuguese. So, my dear Americans, be prepared to strip if you come to Portugal to see the sword that is in… in… God! Where did they put the sword? Wait.
Don’t come yet. Or, if you do, try to see something else, while I locate the sword.
Benjamin Franklin Grave
Walking in the old town we were attracted by several signs indicating the way to Benjamin Franklin tomb.
Curious we followed the signs, and verifying that it had a payed entrance we decided to skip (We know that Franklin means a lot to the American people, and I accept criticism, but only from those knowing Afonso Henriques).
A few steps ahead there it was, seen across the fence, with nothing to show except… the American admiration expressed in coins. Not much, for an European tourist.
Halfway of Benjamin Franklin Parkway, a building was built to expose the private collection of Jules Matbaum, donated to the city.
It’s the largest collection of Rodin outside Europe, and it’s easily accessed by all the touristic transports.
I was impressed with the views from the museum, specially with a roman looking building by the river, composing a nice scenery.
read that it was the Aquarium, but I had no time to confirm or to visit it. Next time!
In the centre of modern Philadelphia there’s an equestrian statue of a general who fought the civil war – George McClellan, by the artist Henry jackson Ellicott.
McClellan was defeated by Lincoln in presidential elections.
I skipped it!
That’s what happens when you go somewhere without a previous reading to decide what to see.I had only a day in Philadelphia, that I used to see its highlights, in a hop on hop off basis. I’ve been twice by the Masonic temple, I noticed its impressive dimension and architecture, but I must confess that I thought it was just another modern American church, following classical European architecture. Being so short in time, I didn’t enter.I repented when I read that it was… masonic.
I never counted, but I think that I’ve entered temples of more than 20 religions (I know that masonry is not a religion, but, having a temple…), and love to see the different ways people use to deal with supernatural.
I’VE NEVER VISITED A MASONIC TEMPLE. As a matter of fact, in my country masonry it’s a discreet, almost secret organization. A big temple? No way!
And I was there, just a couple of steps more! Maybe I didn’t miss anything really important, but I missed a… opportunity. And that is important!
Dominating the center
The centre of town is dominated by this huge building, that really impressed me. I’m not able to write about it, but I dare to transcribe visitphilly Overview:
City Hall is the largest municipal building in the United States, containing over 14.5 acres of floor space. It is an architectural treasure inside and out. The public rooms are among the most lavish in the city. The City Council Chamber, the Mayor’s Reception Room, Conversation Hall and the Supreme Court Room are the most ornate.
The exterior is covered with sculpture representing the seasons and continents, as well as allegorical figures, heads and masks. All of the sculpture was designed by Alexander Milne Calder, including the 27-ton statue of William Penn atop the tower.
For a more comprehensive look inside City Hall, visitors can go on a two-hour, public tour highlighting the art, architecture, tower and building history. Tours leave at 12:30 p.m., Monday-Friday. Call (215) 686-2840 for advance reservations or group visits (credit card required).
Today the most commercial street in Philadelphia, it is called the most historical street in America.
Following it, you have the chance to see at least half of the city’s highlights. Not to be missed.
Betsy Rose – Legends of a Recent History
Popular tradition says that the first American flag was conceived and made by a Quaker lady named Elizabeth (Betsy).
The house where she lived with another widow, after her husband death, was preserved, and you may visit both the house and the shop.
Philadelphia Museum – Too big for a rushing visit
With a splendid location this immense building easily reached by the hop-on hop-off bus, provides great views.
Without time to enter and admire its collection, one of the greatest in USA, we could only appreciate the site, but it deserves the trip, especially if you have time to enter, of course.
S. Peter and Paul Cathedral
Located near the Logan Circle, this church with a heavy and dark look, follows the Italian Renaissance style, with a beautiful portico and some interesting frescoes.In its home page, monsignor Arthur E. Rogers invites us saying:
“Welcome to the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, the mother church of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Francis Patrick Kenrick initiated the building of this magnificent Church in 1846. It was continued through the tenure of Saint John Neumann and completed in 1864 by Bishop (later Archbishop) Wood. You are invited to not only learn more about our Cathedral Basilica through this website but also to join us for liturgy, for private prayers and for a tour of our imposing Basilica.”
You may accept!
Bank and Bourbon – The best
We had two memorable meals in the USA: One in San Francisco, that I describe in its page, and this one. Both eating fish, both perfect. After a week eating meat… or meat, we desperately wanted fish, and, walking along the streets, we were searching for a promising fish restaurant.
This one convinced us, and entering it was our best decision in the whole week. A marvellous space, modern, with perfect illumination and great ambiance, “told” us that we were going to pay for the lunch. That sensation was enhanced by the waiter when after noting my command, he solemnly announced that I had made the perfect choice: I was going to be the last human to eat such delicacy – Chilean sea bass capture had been prohibited, and, for unknown reasons blue crabs were not reproducing anymore, facing extinction.
I had a golden credit card, but, at that moment, it was screaming in my pocket.
Well, lunch was perfect, and the “fat” bill less than a half of what I was already expecting to pay. The funny is that I was so impressed by the strange speech of the waiter that, once at home, I checked Internet, and found… that it was absolutely true.
I don’t know if things are back to normal, with Chilean sea bass back to the American diets and blue crabs respecting their sexual obligation or not, but the pleasure’s memory remains.
Great lunch in Philadelphia!
Wyndham – Excellent Deal
We stayed at Wyndham Franklin Roosevelt Plaza (Sheraton), for an “impossible” rate of $75. A good four stars, well located, that now rates $125 and up was a great deal. Even at a regular price, the hotel is a good solution. We arrived late in the night, with the restaurant already closed, but the bartender helpfully gave us a number to a pizza seller that in (many) minutes took it to the hotel.
Address: 2 Franklin Plaza 17th & Race Sts, Philadelphia, PA
Phlash – Easy, cheap and reliable
It covers the touristy area, runs four times an hour, and cost $2 by trip /free to small children and seniors). It stops close to the main attractions of the city, and it is good for a hop on hop off plan.
A Dulcimer in Philadelphia – nice!
Animating tourist spaces is a common solution. Making it with sense and good taste a different thing.
Entering the Independence visitor center, in Philadelphia, the waiting lines were “softened” by a gentleman in costume, playing the sweet instrument calling dulcimer.
It was a free extra, well performed, providing us some pleasant moments.
Old bourse of Philadelphia – A nice mall
Built in 1895 as one of the first steel-framed structures, the building was used for many years as a place for exchange in several kind of business in Philadelphia.
In 1979 it was bought by Kaiserman Company and after an expensive restoration opened as a lively retailing mall.
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