The Cathedral of Learning is the centerpiece of the University of Pittsburgh's campus. Rising over 500 feet tall, with 42 floors, it is the second-tallest academic building in the world. It houses a number of departments within the university, including Philosophy, History, English, and Religious Studies.
The cathedral of learning was built in the 1920s and 1930. Charles Klauder was the architect behind its gothic design.
The Cathedral of Learning is famous for its nationality rooms (26 in total), which are classrooms whose designs highlight the various ethnic backgrounds of Pittsburgh's inhabitants. These can be seen via guided tours of the building. Another of the building's highlights are its ground floor common areas, which feature classical gothic architecture full of vaulted arches.
The Gothic Cathedral of Learning was begun in 1926, completed in 1937, and is the second tallest education building in the world. At 42 stories and 535 feet high, it offers a superb vantage over the campus and of downtown Pittsburgh about 2.5 miles to the west. The cathedral has a huge church-like common room on the 1st floor, nationality classrooms, the school administration offices, and libraries. The top floor has some great views...take the elevator!
At Christmas around 20 rooms in the cathedral are decorated in the themes of different countries reprepenting the inhabitants of Pittsburgh. Check their website for details and reservations.
If you're not quite able to take that trip around the world, but you find yourself in Pittsburgh, the University of Pittsburgh's Nationality Rooms may be the next best thing! Inside the Cathedral of Learning, on the first and third floors, many of the rooms have been designed to look resemble that of a specific nation. Along with the room itself, many of the rooms also house items from that country. The items are usually accompanied by descriptions of their significance to the people of that nation. There are guided tours that allow you to learn even more about the rooms, as well as a button that you can push upon entering the room to hear more about it. From mid-Novemer through December, each room is decorated for Christmas, and the tours provide information about the room, as well as their Christmas (or December holiday) traditions.
Rooms are designed by natives from the nations that they are to represent, so they are truly authentic. Some of the current nationalities represented include Syria-Lebanon, Ukraine, Germany, Poland, France, Ireland, Austria, Israel, Africa, India, Japan, China, and many more. New rooms are in the process of being added, so the list will get longer!
Tours are quite cheap: adults being $3.00 each, and students from age 8-18 are $1.00 each. If you opt not to take a tour, you can still enter the rooms on your own for free.
The Nationality Rooms at the Cathedral of Learning will take you back to a wide array of cultures and times in history. Such as Athens in the time of Pericles, a palace hall in Beijing's Forbidden City, an ancient monastic Indian university, flowers that grow in Czech and Slovak valleys, a 6th-century oratory from Ireland's Golden Age, an Asante temple courtyard in Ghana, London's House of Commons, and more.
The huge, demanding presence of the building from outside is hard to fully photograph but amazing none the less. The powering giant Gothic style arches inside command respect and admiration.
-Students are studying here and classes are in session throughout the school year. Be respectful. Photography is permitted but use discrection as I'm sure camera flashes are distracting.
-Look through the peepholes to each labelled nationality room. If there is no class in session it should be safe to enter.
-Fees seem to be for guided-tours only. Otherwise, it appears free if you want to wander about the nationality rooms unguided. A donation would probably be appreciated.
-Take the elevator to the 36th floor if you're not claustrophobic or afraid of heights. There are some amazing views of the city from atop.
-Be patient! Although there is 5 elevators, keep in mind there is a hustling student population about and over 40 floors can mean medium-long elevator rides with several stops.
-Be prepared to park and walk a little way. Average parking price $3, which will buy you about one hour. You'll need between 1 or 2 hours to tour the nationality rooms (depending on how many details you read and how many classes are using the rooms).
Hours are subject to change, best to check their website.
Fees Adults $3, Senior Citizens $2, Youths ages 8-18 50¢
The great tower of learning at the University of Pittsburgh is a deserved landmark of American Higher Education. 42 stories of classrooms (you have to see the "Nationality Rooms"!), faculty offices, meeting spaces, and genuine gothic absurdities. Great gargoyles, too. I wish I taught in such a neat building - though I wouldn't want to have to wait for the elevator every day!
The Cathedral of Learning is the second tallest education building in the world (42 stories tall). If for nothing else, go inside the building to view the gothic commons room. Arches, gargoyles and large open spaces are often the home of university student study sessions and quiet places to talk. Grab coffee from a nearby cafe and unwind.
There is more to see inside this building though. There are 26 Nationality Rooms that depict classrooms from around the world decorated and design in the unique style of a countryies culture. I know they do tours but I don't recall when or how often. There is a help desk in the commons area that can help.
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