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Pennsylvania, der Gründerstaat der USA, Bild: Cenz07 / shutterstock

Where it all began – a journey through the US state of Pennsylvania

In the United States of America, every child knows what happened on July 4, 1776 in Pennsylvania’s largest city, Philadelphia . In the “Hall of Independence” there, the Declaration of Independence of the USA, which was largely written by the later US President Thomas Jefferson, was signed on this day.

In it, 13 English colonies on the American continent proclaimed their separation from the British motherland. Pennsylvania is therefore considered the birthplace of the United States of America as we know it today and is also known as the “State of Independence”. Only eleven years later, on September 17, 1787, the new Constitution of the United States was signed in the same place. Today, the Hall of Independence is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and is also depicted on the back of the US $100 bill.

History, culture, innovation – that’s Philadelphia

Independance Hall
Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Image: Sean Pavone / shutterstock

But Philadelphia offers much more! Other sights include the famous Liberty Bell, symbol of American democracy, which can be found just a few meters next to the Hall of Independence. Or up what is probably America’s most famous staircase to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, whose 72 steps Sylvester Stallone once stormed as “Rocky”. Once at the top, unlike Rocky back then, you should also visit the museum’s exhibitions. Over 240,000 exhibits from a wide variety of art movements want to be admired. Other museums and galleries, such as the Rodin Museum or the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, are also worth a visit. But in Philadelphia, you don’t have to go to a museum to experience art. The metropolis is also considered the world capital of mural painting, called “Mural Arts”. More than 4000 such murals can be found on house walls and walls throughout the city.

In addition, visitors can expect a rich offer of culture, exceptional food and, of course, (almost) unlimited shopping opportunities. Because in the entire state of Pennsylvania, unlike in the rest of the USA, no taxes are levied on the sale of clothing and shoes. Shopping here is particularly easy on the wallet and makes Philadelphia a true shopping paradise with its many shops and boutiques. If you need a break, you can relax in one of the countless outdoor cafés or visit the Reading Terminal Market. The oldest still operating farmers’ market in the USA offers a huge selection of different specialties from all over the world with its almost one hundred stalls.

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Green and pedestrian-friendly: Philadelphia is ahead of its time

The best way to explore all this is on foot. For the car-loving USA, this is certainly unusual. But “Philly,” as Philadelphia is affectionately known by locals, has the largest public city park system in the world, making it not only the greenest city in the U.S., but has also been recognized several times as being particularly pedestrian-friendly.

Also suitable for families: Experience Pennsylvania’s beautiful nature

But Pennsylvania is also worth a trip away from the big cities and is a real Eldorado, especially for hikers. Endless forests, rolling hills, waterfalls and lakes characterize rural Pennsylvania. Numerous wilderness trails in different lengths invite you to discover the flora and fauna. They are usually well developed and therefore also ideal for families with children. The extensive deciduous forests are particularly beautiful during the “Indian Summer”.

In the months of September and October, the leaves of the trees change colour and make the forests shine in warm yellow and red tones. By the way, Pennsylvania owes its name to these forests – and to a man named William Penn. In 1681, he was given a larger area in the American wilderness by the English king and was appointed governor there. His name “Penn” and the Latin word for forest “Silva” eventually became Pennsylvania.

Discovering and preserving tradition: the Amish people

William Penn himself was a Quaker and accordingly decreed extensive religious freedom in his new state, which attracted numerous followers of religious minorities who were oppressed or persecuted in their European homelands. The best-known group is certainly the “Amish People”. From 1709 onwards, they emigrated from southern Germany and Switzerland to America and settled mainly in liberal Pennsylvania. Even today, their descendants live there according to the rules of the religious community and are known for their extensive renunciation of modern technology and media. In the villages and farms of the Amish you can learn more about their way of life. Their language has also survived to this day as “Pennsylvania Dutch”. This is not Dutch, but a German dialect that you can understand quite well with a little concentration if you otherwise speak High German.

A special experience: the sound stones from Upper Black Eddy

Ringing Rocks County Park Pennsylvania
Ringing Rocks County Park, Image: Jim Bogosian / shutterstock

About 70 kilometers north of Philadelphia lies the small town of Upper Black Eddy. But it’s not the town itself that is an attraction, but the nearby Ringing Rocks County Park. On an area of about three hectares there is a huge boulder field. The special feature: when you hit one of the stones with a hammer, different sounds are heard. However, only about a third of the stones produce sounds that are perceptible to humans. All others produce pitches that are too low for human hearing. Incidentally, it has not yet been possible to fully clarify why the sounds are created at all. If you want, you can bring a hammer with you during your visit and give your own “rock” concert.

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Varied Pennsylvania – always worth a trip

Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in particular have a huge cultural offer, such as museums, concerts, events and the opportunity to experience American history up close. In addition, there are countless restaurants and the best shopping opportunities. Outside of the centers, 121 state parks are great for family-friendly hiking, kayaking or biking. In Pennsylvania, everyone really gets their money’s worth!

General information about Pennsyvania

Pennsylvania, one of the 13 founding states of the United States, is located in the northeast of the country and borders New Jersey, New York, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. The capital is Harrisburg, but the most famous and largest cities are Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Climate

Pennsylvania has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. Summers are typically warm and can be humid in some parts of the state, while winters are cold, especially in the northern and western regions that experience snowfall. Autumn is known for its vibrant foliage and spring for mild temperatures and blooms.

Sights

  • Philadelphia: The city of brotherly love is steeped in American history. Highlights include the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
  • Pittsburgh: Known for its steel industry history, the city now boasts a vibrant cultural scene and is famous for its unique geography, nestled among three rivers and numerous hills.
  • Gettysburg National Military Park: An important site of the American Civil War, where the decisive Battle of Gettysburg took place.
  • Amish Country: Lancaster County offers glimpses into the life of the Amish community, known for its simple way of life without modern technology.
  • Hershey: The city is famous for its chocolate production and amusement park.

Activities

  • Hiking and Outdoor Activities: The Appalachian Trail and numerous state parks offer excellent opportunities for hiking, biking, and camping.
  • Cultural events: Attend music festivals, theater performances, and museums like the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh or the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.
  • Historical Exploration: Pennsylvania has a rich history that can be explored in many historic sites and museums.

Culture

Pennsylvania is a melting pot of cultures, with strong influences from German, Irish, Italian, and Polish immigrants, as well as a significant Amish community. This diversity is reflected in the local cuisine, festivals and daily life.

Gastronomy

Pennsylvania is known for its diverse cuisine, including Philadelphia cheesesteak, pretzels, and Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine. Pittsburgh offers unique culinary creations such as pierogi and primanti brothers sandwiches.

Journey

Pennsylvania is easily accessible through major airports such as Philadelphia International Airport and Pittsburgh International Airport. In addition, the state is easily accessible via a well-developed network of highways and rail services, which makes it easier to travel within the USA.