The largest Catholic Church in Pennsylvania, the Basilica was modeled after the Lombard Church of St. Charles in Rome.
Located in Philadelphia’s museum district, Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul assumes a simple exterior. However, upon entrance through either the front gate that is guarded by the statues of St. Peter and St. Paul on the sides or the side chapel, the hidden majesty concealed within the Basilica’s building structure strikes all visitors as peaceful yet decorative in European styles.
The vaulted dome, grand facade, ornate altar, eight side chapels and main sanctuary comfortable holds 2,000 worshipers. The Cathedral Basilica sits as the largest brownstone structure in Philadelphia.
The entire interior is filled with beautiful, detailed artworks of Christian faith and Catholic elements. It is part of the Hop on/Hop off bus tours. If you are staying in downtown Philadelphia, it is easy to walk from anywhere in this area.
Opened in 1864, the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul serves as the principal or Mother Church of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as it houses the chair or “cathedra” of the Archbishop.
With its massive stone columns and highly recognizable great dome, the Basilica is situated at 18th Street and Franklin Parkway, near Logan Square and Franklin Institute. It was designed by Philadelphia architect Napoleon LeBrun, whose notable work includes the Philadelphia Academy of Music, and John Notman, who also designed St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Philadelphia.
Throughout the interior of the great dome are paintings by Constantino Brumidi, famed painted of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Inside the sacred structure, visitors will discover various shrines, altars, statues and mosaics.
Free to the public, the structure is an amazing representation of architecture in Philadelphia. Religious affiliation isn’t a requirement to appreciate the sheer beauty and impressive architecture of this building.
Check the website for current schedule
Saints Peter & Paul
On June 29, the Catholic church celebrates the feast day of Sts. Peter & Paul. As early as the year 258, there is evidence of tradition on celebrating the solemnities of both Saint Peter and Saint Paul on the same day. Together, the saints are the founders of the See of Rome, through their preaching, ministry and martyrdom there.
On the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, June 29, 1846, Bishop Kenrick initiated the building venture, during a period of strife between Roman Catholics and Protestants in Philadelphia.
Demographic of Parishioner
During Easter and Christmas, service is packed with visitors. However, attendance for daily service is dwindling with local residents or downtown commuters.
Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul
1723 Race Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
The Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm
Tip #1 For additional information during your visit, look for the helpful Cathedral Ambassadors dressed in maroon blazers.
Tip #2 Take a self-guided tour of the Basilica with a free, 20-minute audio tour available for download.
Tip #3 Take home a church bulletin as a souvenir. It is a snapshot of the Basilica’s weekly events.
Tip #4 Best time to visit is during the weekdays.