Gloria Dei Church National Historic Site

Overview

Come visit Pennsylvania's oldest church - Gloria Dei Church. Before William Penn, the Swedes were here, building log homes and a church they named Gloria Dei. Imagine the transformation of a town becoming a city, thirteen colonies become one nation. Imagine William Penn's Philadelphia rising, hand-hewed logs vanish in favor of locally baked brick. The Swedish log Gloria Dei removed to be replaced by a new church, christened in brick. Affectionately referred to as Old Swedes, imagine Old Swedes in the modern world - an oasis surrounded by a sea of concrete and steel. This tiny church was almost lost in the nearly endless sea of tall masts standing shoulder to shoulder along a busy waterfront only yards away and yet the memory of the long-vanished Swedish settlers is still not forgotten. Stroll among its cemetery's weatherworn tombstones to re-discover Patriots and ordinary citizens buried side by side so long ago. Enter the tiny church and feel three hundred years of history welcoming you. Gloria Dei Church was designated as a National Historical Site in 1942, six years before Independence Hall, and is still an operating church. The Gloria Dei congregation owns and maintains the church and the related buildings, its ministry and the grounds. The National Park Service has provided the church with additional land to create an appropriate setting against the encroaching urban environment. Buried in the cemetery are numerous members of George Washington's army, as well as the famous naturalist Alexander Wilson (the "Father of American Ornithology"). Come discover the past at Gloria Dei Church National Historic Site.

Map

Activities

Seasonality / Weather

Four distinct seasons with moderately cold winter and hot, humid summer. January average temperature, 33 degrees Fahrenheit; July average temperature, 75 degrees; average yearly rainfall, 41 inches; normal seasonal snowfall, 21 inches.

Directions

Driving: 

From northbound I-95 Exit at the Columbus Boulevard/Washington Avenue exit (#16). Turn left onto Christopher Columbus Boulevard. At the second traffic light, Christian Street, turn left. Church parking lot is on the left.

From south bound I-95 Exit at the Penn's Landing (exit 16, left hand off ramp). Turn right onto Christopher Columbus Boulevard. At the first light (Christian Street) turn right. Church parking lot is one the left.

Flying: 

Philadelphia International Airport, eight miles from Center City, is served by all major domestic carriers as well as a gateway for flights from Europe, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. The SEPTA Airport Line connects the airport with Center City.

Public Transport: 

Philadelphia is served by Amtrak which operates rail service along the Northeast Corridor (Boston to Washington, Atlantic City, NJ to Harrisburg, PA). Inter city service is provided to many points south and west. SEPTA Bus Routes #25, #47 and #57 stop within 10 blocks or closer of Gloria Dei.