The Churches and More Tour
This private gem is nestled in the heart of one of Pittsburgh's oldest neighborhoods, Squirrel Hill. Rodef Shalom Temple is the oldest Jewish Congregation in Western Pennsylvania, tracing its roots back to the late 1840s. The Biblical Botanical Garden was established in 1987, and is the largest of its kind in North America, measuring a third of an acre. Visit the land of the Bible in the setting of a waterfall, desert, stream, and the River Jordan, which meanders through the garden from Lake Galilee to the Dead Sea. All plants are labeled with biblical verses accompanying them. The garden features more than 100 temperate and tropical plants including wheat, barley, millet, and many herbs grown by the ancient Israelites, along with olives, dates, pomegranates, figs, and cedars. Biblical names given to local plants show the affection of each generation for the Bible. All are welcome, there is no admission charge, and group tours are available through advance reservations. The garden is available for touring from June 1 through September 15.
To Schedule a Group Tour: Irene Jacob, 412.621.6566
Calvary is as interesting and inspiring as any of the finest Cathedrals in Europe. Elaborately decorated spires, louvers, gargoyles, geometric designs, St. Andrews Crosses, angelic faces carved into the Cleveland bluestone and vaulted oak ceilings are just some of the architectural features that have captured the imagination of art critics and historians alike. The crowning feature of the building is the abundant Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass windows.
To Schedule a Group Tour: Dennis Panek, 412.323.1070
Located on the grounds of the University of Pittsburgh, the Heinz Memorial Chapel began as a gift. Henry John Heinz, the founder of the H.J. Heinz Company, wanted to honor his mother, Anna Margaretta Heinz, with "a building" at the University. Ground was broken for the chapel in 1933, the cornerstone was laid in 1934, and the building was dedicated in 1938. Built in fifteenth-century French Flamboyant style, the chapel features windows by Charles J. Connick of Boston that wash the interior in a gentle purple light. The chapel is open daily throughout the year except for University holidays, and it hosts approximately 1,500 events annually. More than 100,000 people participate in religious services, weddings, concerts, classes, memorial services, and guided tours.
The formidable twin spires of St. Paul's Roman Catholic Cathedral were erected over three years from 1903-06 and have become prominent objects in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood. The majesty of the building's limestone Victorian façade is matched by an interior featuring color-saturated stained glass windows, intricately carved religious ornamentation and splendid wood work.
The walls and ceiling of St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church are decorated with elaborate tempera paintings by artist Maxo Vanka (1890-1963). The murals tell the story of the Croatian peasants who left their native farm lands at the turn of the 20th century to seek a better life in the post-industrial United States of America. The evocative murals also capture Vanka's strong belief about the futility of war and his sadness about the destruction of the motherland. The church is alleged to be haunted.
Drink and dine in splendor! The former St. John the Baptist Church has been "re-purposed" into a fine restaurant and brew pub. The refurbishment was so impressive that it earned a Merit Award from Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation. Visitors can sit in original pews in the 150-seat dining room or visit the pub and bar area, which seats an additional 130 guests.
For more information on Pittsburgh and Its Countryside attractions and accommodations, or assistance planning a tour, contact the VisitPittsburgh Group Tour department at 412.281.0482, extension 3152.