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“Awesome Gothic Experience for Kids and Adults”

Cathedral of Learning
Ranked #8 of 183 things to do in Pittsburgh
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed July 29, 2011

This neo-gothic building is free to explore and kids can’t resist checking out the old oaken desks in the enormous (4-stories high) Commons Room that has stone pillars, vaulted ceilings, huge fireplaces, gothic arches, and fertile ground for exploration. The main room, where the information center is located, is at street level if you approach from the Fifth Avenue side. The pamphlet says this is the tallest (42 floors) academic building in the U.S. and most of the floors are easily accessible by those using wheels.

A huge lawn surrounds the building, located on a 14-acre city block that also houses Heinz Chapel (a neo-gothic masterpiece that’s also free -- don’t miss it) and the Stephen Foster Memorial theaters. Parking can be difficult on school days but we are often able to find space at the large lot that’s next to Carnegie Museum down the street (at the Craig Street/Forbes Avenue traffic light).

If you have time, tour the 26 Nationality Rooms that line the corridor of the first and third floors (the room key and an audio tour machine costs $3). Each room was a gift from an ethnic community in Pittsburgh (the English community donated the England Room, Norwegians built the Norway Room, etc.) and each one reflects beautiful craftsmanship. However, these rooms are sometimes used as classrooms, so some might not be accessible.

There’s a magic in the Cathedral of Learning. I felt it the first time I visited, and it’s there still. This is like finding a well preserved castle in Pittsburgh. Check it out.

2  Thank AnnInPittsburgh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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721 - 725 of 784 reviews

Reviewed July 28, 2011

This place was beautiful! It reminded me of a European gothic Church on the inside. It had I believe over 20 nationality rooms completed when I went. You basically have to do the tour to see anything on the first floor as you need to borrow a key and a tape recorder from the gift shop. The chage i think was $3 per person and worth it as we spend several hours here. They keep your ID to make sure you bring it back the tape and key so be warned, I was a little surprised by that, like being back in school. The rooms are all decorated by different countries and some have put much more thought into it than others but they are all very cool. The Irish room looks like a monestary, The Japanese room like a traditional house etc. There are a few rooms you can just peek into because they are to elaborate to walk in as well. The third floor is free if you just wanted to do that, there are switches on the rooms in those and they go on about the rooms. Just be careful when taking the elevators, only certain elevators go to certain floors and they are a bit slow. I beleive there were only nine rooms done on the third floor but they seemed a bit more elaborate than the original rooms on the first floor. However, the pre-recodred tapes for these rooms were much more long winded and I found them to be a bit boring compared to the first floor rooms which were more sweet and to the point. I also like the idea of having to unlock and relock each first floor room as we went. it just sort of added an air of mystery to the whole thing. I went with my father and grandmother and it was a good because each room had a chair of some kind for my grandmother to sit down on while the tape ran it's course. Although some of these rooms were a bit warm, I'm not sure if they had air but the windows were open so this might not be the best thing to do on a really hot summer day but when we went and it was raining so everything was fine. Overall I'd recommend this if you are looking for something unique to do and best of all the Carnegie Museum of Art and Natural History is right across the street so you can park and spend the day visiting both attractions. Although I beleive the cathedral closes earlier so you may want to hit that first and then head to the museum.

2  Thank Laurel_Lye13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 25, 2011

This unique attraction is 10-15 minutes from downtown. You can get in free but definitely pay the fee for the first floor tour - the rooms on the first floor are less crowded and nicer than the third floor rooms. We didn't even listen to the tape recorder, we just explored. The rooms smelled terrible but other than that the $3 for the self guided tour was money well spent. The building is spectacular by itself and the surrounding campus is pretty with lots of statues, Heinz Chapel (you can go inside - it's free too) and spots to picnic. Definitely go in the summer when school's out. Bring a bottle of water since I don't remember there being any sort of snack bar. I'll post some photos but they do NOT do this building justice. I'd say 1-2 hours for this but if you have kids plan a little longer - I would have LOVED this as a kid - it's like you're exploring a castle. But they do need to be quiet since people study in this building, even during the summer.

2  Thank PrettyFuzzy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 9, 2011

The Cathedral of Learning is an architecturally beautiful building. There are numerous rooms designed by people from the country they represents and seating in each room to accomodate a class. In some of the rooms, you push a switch when you enter and you hear a description of the room. In other rooms, you're given a tape with the same information. Our tape was very difficult to understand due to the equipment. The cassette player must have been twenty years old. We spent the afternoon. I love learning about other countries and cultures so this was a hit for me. My 19 year old daughter enjoyed it too. My husband, not so much. There's a small so-so gift ship but no refreshment area. The cost was three dollars per person.

4  Thank Pennsylvaniajudi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 25, 2011

If you are ever in Pittsburgh, PA and want to see something different, visit the Cathedral of Learning on the Campus of the University of Pittsburgh (aka Pitt). A skyscraper, 23 stories tall known as the "tallest school in theworld" (or something to that effect)

Beautiful architectural structure, with uniquely designed individual classrooms for a variety of ethnic cultures. The Pitt campus is big and beautiful. The Heinz Chapel is right next door. (We couldn't enter because a wedding was in service during our visit).

Forgot to visit the "O" (The Original) for a hotdog and the biggest basket of french fries you have ever ordered.

1  Thank Moank52
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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