People are sometimes suspicious about masons probably because their ceremonies are closed to non members. By the way, many of the American revolution leaders were masons.
The truth is that I never been inside a Masonic Temple so when I’ve read it about this one in Philadelphia I wanted to take advantage of the organized tours they have daily except Sundays.
Unfortunately, we were there on Sunday so we couldn’t get inside and check this (surreal) tour. So we just watched and took pics of the interesting building which was much bigger than I expected and looked like a modern American church that try to look like european.
The entrance fee is $8 and the tours are Tuesday to Friday 10.00, 11.00, 13.00, 14.00, 15.00. On Saturdays on 10.00, 11.00 and 12 noon
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!
Full disclosure: I am not, nor have any close acquaintance with, a Mason. The following is not in any way an apologetic for a group that has no need to create apologetics.
During the European Middle Ages, masons formed societies dedicated to the common good and to equality in society. The ideals of these masonic societies were eventually championed by the intellectual leaders of the Enlightenment, such that "masonic groups" eventually lost any connection with the occupation of masonry, and became synonymous with groups dedicated to social equality and civic virtue. Not surprisingly, many of the leaders of the American Revolution were masons, and the groups continue to have a strong and visible presence in U.S. society.
Masonic ceremonies are closed to non-members. Because of that, rumors about and suspicion of these groups has been rampant -- and invariably unfair. Other than these ceremonial rites, nothing about the Masons is secret: members openly and proudly proclaim who they are, buildings are open to visitors, and pictures of their leaders are freely present. If you MUST know about these rites, former Masons have "revealed" these secrets decades ago -- just do a simple Internet search.
The tour includes visits to several meeting rooms built and maintained by each of the groups. Most have a triangle in the middle (sorry, you'll have to look it up) for ceremonies, seats for members to attend, and beautiful art and architecture appropriate for the group. It isn't Palace of Versailles, but the care they take in building these is impressive. The Egyptian Room, for instance, has heiro-glyphs so well made and authentic that local students use this room for study of ancient Egypt.
Tours, open to anyone, are available several times each day except Sunday and holidays. Adult admission is $8, and the tour takes a couple hours. If a Masonic activity occurs, tours may be cancelled, so it is best to call ahead. Admission also allows you to freely use their library for any information about Masons you could possibly want -- including the "secret" ceremonies.
I would say masonic temples were among most surprising things for me in the US. The one I visited - an amazingly decorated and beautiful one in Philadelphia was very interesting.
Architecturally very imposing, this temple is very prominent because of its proximity to the City Hall.