12 Famous Buildings In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Updated 2022

famous buildings in philadelphia

Buildings are not just a piece of architectural wonders but it is the reflection of many hidden aspects of the past. If you are a travel enthusiast and ever plan to delve into the history of Pennsylvania in the USA, then Philadelphia is the place to start from. Founded in 1682, Philadelphia has played a crucial role within the American Revolution. You will be surprised to know Philadelphia has been the first capital of the USA and is also an important educational, business, and industrial hub. You will find a lot of emphasis has been placed on the art and culture in the city. Philadelphia is often called “historic Philadelphia”. As you check out these landmarks, take a look at the best Airbnbs and hotels with a pool for your trip. So without wasting any time further, let’s quickly check out the top famous buildings in Philadelphia.

1. 30th Street Station

30th Street Station Philadelphia July 2016 002 edit
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user King of Hearts used under CC BY-SA 3.0

30th Street Station is Philadelphia’s mixed-mode transit station and is the city’s main railroad station. It serves both the regional rail lines of Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and the Atlantic City Line for NJ Transit Rail Operations. City and suburban buses also operate from this fine landmark. Officially known as William H. Gray III 30th Street Station, this building is a major stop and is one of the busiest terminals of Amtrak, with the top two busiest being Penn Station in Manhattan and Union Station in Washington D.C.

30th Street Station

Address: 2955 Market St, Philadelphia, PA 19104, United States

Website: 30th Street Station

2. Vanna Venturi House

VVenturi House Highsmith
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Carol Highsmith used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

In the neighborhood of Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia is where you’ll find the Vanna Venturi House, one of the pioneering works of postmodern architecture. Architect Robert Venturi designed this five-bedroom home for his mother, Vanna Venturi. This home is actually just 30 feet (9 meters) tall, but its towering facade is made to look like it is larger. Robert Venturi penned the anti-Modernist book Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture as he designed the famous home. The home was awarded the Twenty-five Year Award by the American Institute of Architects in 1989.

Vanna Venturi House

Address: Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

3. Independence Hall

Independence Hall
Source: Photo by user Rdsmith4 used under CC BY-SA 2.5

Located on Chesnut Street, Independence Hall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The building is of great historical importance as this place marks the birth of a new republic in the United States of America. The two important pillars of any nation are its independence and the constitution. This iconic Philadelphia building is the place where the US achieved its independence, the Declaration of Independence took place inside this hall. Also, the Constitution of the US was debated, formed and adopted in this building which marks the coming of the new era in the States.

Independence Hall

Address: 520 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19106, USA

Website: Independence Hall

Travel tip by Philadelphia Local Expert - John
Posted on: Mar 17, 2021

A must-visit Philadelphia historical site, Independence Hall is the premier location to visit if you are interested in or want to learn more about American history. This beautiful building is managed by the National Park Service and offers spectacular free tours every 15 minutes. If you are visiting, you should make sure to go on one of these tours with the park service to get up close and personal with America's founding.

Inside of Independence Hall
Inside of Independence Hall

4. One Liberty Place

Source: Photo by user Wasted Time R used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Have you ever visited any skyscraper complex and witnessed the beauty of towns and cities from the sky. If no, then Liberty Place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States is the place for you. One Liberty Place is a 61-story, 945-foot skyscraper complex. This is one of the most important buildings in Philadelphia due to its marvellous architecture.

One Liberty Place

Address: 1650 Market St, Philadelphia, PA 19103, USA

Website: One Liberty Place

5. Franklin Institute

Franklin Institute
Source: Photo by user Wynnewood500 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Established in 1824, Franklin Institute is a huge science museum named after great scientist Benjamin Franklin. It is a prime centre of science in research in Philadelphia. This place is a must visit for science enthusiasts. The building has two forms of architecture - Neoclassical architecture and Greek Revival architecture, making it a must visit for history enthusiasts too.

Franklin Institute

Address: 222 N 20th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103, USA

Website: Franklin Institute

6. Philadelphia City Hall

Philadelphia City Hall 7
Source: Photo by user Antoine Taveneaux used under CC BY-SA 3.0

One of the largest municipal building in the world, Philadelphia City Hall is the government’s seat built in the centre of the city. The architecture of this building has the striking resemblance to Second Empire European architecture. The building was designed by John McArthur Jr. and Thomas Ustick Walter. It was built in 30 years within the Penn Square, making it one of the most iconic buildings in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia City Hall

Address: 1400 John F Kennedy Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA

Website: Philadelphia City Hall

7. Christ Church

Christ Church Phila crop
Source: Photo by user Beyond My Ken used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Built between 1727–1744, Christ Church is a symbol of a new beginning of Christianity in the US. The church was founded as a small parish of the Church of England in the year 1695. The historical importance of this church is its role in building the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. The building has a Georgian form of architecture. Its marvellous architecture is not just eye-pleasing but it is very strong and has very successfully survived the ravages of time.

Christ Church

Address: 20 N American St, Philadelphia, PA 19106, USA

Website: Christ Church

8. Pennsylvania Museum of Art

Philadephia Museum of Art
Source: Photo by user [Unknown] used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Another museum in the heart of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Museum of Art has one of largest gallery space in the world. Established in 1876, the Pennsylvania Museum of Art has a huge object collection coming from three continents - European, American and Asian origin. Art and culture play a huge role in determining the historical significance of that place. Therefore, the museum offers an amazing treat to the eyes, as well as a great creative space for the scholarly discovery of imagination and strength. You will come across a huge range of artworks such as photographs, armours, paintings, sculpture, decorative pieces of arts, prints and drawings.

Pennsylvania Museum of Art

Address: 2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA 19130, USA

Website: Pennsylvania Museum of Art

Opening Hours: 10:00am - 5:00pm (Tuesday, Thursday and weekends), 10:00am - 8:45pm (Wednesday and Friday), Monday closed

9. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts building
Source: Photo by user Difference engine used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) is the first museum ever built in the US. It is also one of the oldest art schools and art museums in the country, dating back to the year 1805. Known for its diverse collection of American sculptures, paintings and works on paper coming from the 19th and 20th century. The museum is a reflection of three forms of architecture- Gothic, Second Empire and Renaissance. Women artists are given an exclusive place in this gallery making it an essential part of the list of famous buildings in Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Address: 118-128 N Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19102, USA

Website: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Opening Hours: 10:00am - 5:00pm (Monday Closed)

10. Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Watchtower - 01
Source: Photo by user Adam Jones used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Constructed in the year 1821 Eastern State Penitentiary, also known as ESP, is the former American Prison. This prison is known to be one of the most expensive prisons ever built in the world. The prison cells were both sky-lit and vaulted making it a beautiful piece of architecture. The prison began in the year 1829 and was declared dysfunctional in the year 1971. Since then the place has been ruined but after 142 years of functionality, the government has added Eastern State Penitentiary in the list of National Historic Landmarks. So if you ever wish to see what prison was like in past, then this famous Philadelphia architecture is waiting for you.

Eastern State Penitentiary

Address: 2027 Fairmount Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19130, USA

Website: Eastern State Penitentiary

11. Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul

Altar of Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul decorated for Christmas
Source: Photo by user Joseph Fernandes used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Built in 1846-1864, Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul is the largest Catholic Church in the Pennsylvania region of the US. This cathedral is known for two Papal Masses. The first one was celebrated by Pope John Paul II in the year, 1979, and the second one was celebrated by Pope Francis in the year, 2015. The Cathedral follows three architectural styles - Palladian architecture, Renaissance Revival architecture and Italian architecture.

Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul

Address: 18th St. & Benjamin Franklin Parkway at Logan Square, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Website: Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul

12. Boathouse Row

Twilight on Boathouse Row - panoramio cropped
Source: Photo by user michaelwm25 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Boathouse Row is yet another famous building of Philadelphia which will change your whole concept behind Boathouses. Located on the east bank of the river Schuylkill and in the west of Philadelphia Museum of Art, is a National Historic site built in the year 1860 by famous architects Furness and Evans from Furness, Evans & Company. You will find three architectural styles - Late Victorian, Gothic architecture and Late 19th- and 20th-Century Revivals. There are 15 boathouses which are the house of social and rowing clubs and their racing shells.

Boathouse Row

Address: 1 Boathouse Row, Philadelphia, PA 19130, USA

Ready for the fun

So if you still haven’t packed your bags, then hurry. I believe the list of famous buildings in Philadelphia given above has definitely tempted you to visit the city. Well, I would highly recommend you visiting Philadelphia. Especially, when you wish to get deeper into America’s past, then, Philadelphia is an ideal travel destination. It offers fantastic things to do and historical places to visit. after all, it is the first and only World Heritage City in the United States of America.

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