Craig Davis, vice president of sales and marketing at VisitPittsburgh, said that Pittsburgh’s roots in Eastern Europe and its steel industry influenced the creation of Pittsburgh’s lavish churches. It has been said that people used to work in steel companies for 12 hours and then work on their churches until midnight, he added.
Heinz Memorial Chapel was founded by Henry John Heinz, creator of the H.J. Heinz Company, in honor of his mother. The chapel is open to any denomination and hosts 1,500 events annually with more than 100,000 participants who partake in religious services, guided tours and concerts. The chapel’s walls are Indiana limestone, the lanterns and stair railings wrought-iron. The pews and ceiling are made from Appalachian Mountain oak.
St. Anthony’s Chapel on Harpster Street was founded in 1883 in honor of St. Anthony of Padua and has over 5,000 sacred relics, reputedly the largest public collection of holy relics in the world including second class relics of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The chapel is open Saturday-Thursday for visitors or group tours.
Allegheny Center Alliance Church (ACAC) on East Ohio Street was founded over 100 years ago and serves over 3,000 people and the North Side community.
GCU Saint Nicholas Chapel, located in Beaver, replicates a Greek Catholic church in the Carpathian region of Europe and includes a museum on the lower level with tours available weekdays; large group tours are available by appointment.
Rodef Shalom Temple Biblical Botanical Garden, located on Fifth Avenue, is the oldest Jewish Congregation in Western Pennsylvania. The Biblical Botanical Garden is the largest in North America. The garden showcases more than 100 plants such as olives, figs and herbs grown by Israelites. Group tours of the temple are available by reservation, and garden tours are available from June 1 to September 15.
Bethel Church, founded in 1776, located in Bethel Park, is a historic landmark. Its cemetery contains the remains of 14 Revolutionary War soldiers.
Calvary United Methodist Church, located on Beech Avenue, is inspired by cathedrals in Europe and features gargoyles, St. Andrew’s crosses and oak ceilings. The church showcases 30-foot Louis Comfort Tiffany stained-glass windows. Group tours are available.
Pittsburgh Tourist Attractions
Andy Warhol Museum, one of four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, showcases Warhol’s artworks and film & video works, including home movies and documentaries.
Carnegie Museum of Art, with artwork ranging from the 16th century to the present, boasts major collections of both American and European art. Other Carnegie Museums include Carnegie Science Center and Carnegie Museum of Natural History.
The 26 classrooms of Nationality Rooms at the Cathedral of Learning display ethnic culture of the Pittsburgh area including classrooms of Scottish, Romanian and Italian heritages. Both guided and recorded tours are available.
Senator John Heinz History Center, the largest history museum in Pennsylvania, is a six-floor museum focusing on Pittsburgh’s 250 years of history. It includes the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum.
Point State Park’s Fort Pitt Museum showcases the American Revolution and French & Indian War in Western Pennsylvania. The newest exhibit is The American Frontier Rifleman: Tall Tales & Truth.
National Aviary showcases over 600 rare species of birds and offers such opportunities as “Breakfast with the Birds,” with a bird presentation and a chance to feed the birds.
The Monongahela Incline, built in 1870, is the oldest of the inclines and the steepest in the country. The Duquesne Incline, built in 1877, is located near Fort Pitt Bridge. Both inclines are cable-powered and connect the valley to Mount Washington with one car going uphill while the other travels downhill. Visitors can travel up Mt. Washington for an aerial view of Pittsburgh.
Just Ducky Tours, the only land and water tours through the city of Pittsburgh, offers one-hour tours that begin in Station Square downtown.
Gateway Clipper Fleet sails from Monongahela River at Historic Station Square and offers public or private cruises with featured cruises like “Gospel Luncheon” with fellowship Sunday afternoons on the three rivers. The lunch on selected dates includes a Southern buffet with live gospel music.
Mike’s Carriage Service offers horse carriage tours from Station Square spotlighting downtown’s landmarks on Saturdays and Sundays.
Segway in Paradise offers a one- or two-hour guided tour from Station Square on the two-wheeled, self-balancing vehicles.
Pittsburgh’s Annual Festivals
Maple Syrup Festival is celebrated in early April with a pancake breakfast, Civil War re-enactments and machinery displays.
Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival begins in early June with a weekend of jazz performances and an art show.
The annual Jacktown Fair has been around since 1865 and claims to be the nation’s oldest fair with performances, food and games.
Three Rivers Storytelling Festival, held on the second weekend in August, is rated one of the top 20 regional storytelling festivals in the United States.
Light Up Night starts in the middle of November to kick off the holiday season and is the region’s largest event with music performances, fireworks, holiday lighting show and marches throughout the downtown area.
Religious group travelers will enjoy Pittsburgh’s unique culture and religious background. The exceptional festivals and sightseeing opportunities make a trip to Pittsburgh one to remember.
VisitPittsburgh promotes church tours on its website with “Holy Pittsburgh! The Churches and More Tour.” (www.visitpittsburgh.com)