Baltimore in Maryland: visit the city where the American anthem was born

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Martí Micolau
@martímicolau
SOURCES CONSULTED:

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

We are in north central Maryland a Baltimore, the largest city in the state with a great historical past, over 600.000 inhabitants and a river with a strange name: Patapsco. We are near the border line between the Atlantic coastal plain and the Piedmont plateau near the Appalachian Mountains. Here the climate is hot and humid in summer, mild in autumn and spring (slightly rainier), while winter can vary from cool to harsh with sporadic snowfalls.

Considering the distances within the States we can say that we are "a stone's throw" from Washington DC just an hour's drive and in fact it is a destination that is often visited as a day trip from the American capital. So let's find out what this city has to reserve for us: here are the top things to see in Baltimore.



Index

  • What to see in Baltimore
    • Inner Harbor
    • Mount Vernon
    • The buildings and the ethnic neighborhoods
    • The places of the American anthem
    • The other museums
  • Baltimore and crime: is it a safe city?
  • Baltimore events
  • Where to eat
  • Where to sleep in Baltimore
  • Baltimore environs

What to see in Baltimore

In Baltimore the seafaring tradition and the historical past are evident, preserved, shown in various forms to us visitors who are pleased to find in this city also many other points of interest, moments of fun and culinary appreciation. To keep in mind for more information on the city and any reservations, the Baltimore Visitor Center (401 Light St. - Inner Harbor) open Monday through Sunday from 10am to 17pm.

Inner Harbor

Let's start by going to discover theInner Harbor, the inland port converted into a tourist attraction for years, once a port area that allowed Baltimore to be an industrial leader. Now it is teeming with shops, eateries and points of interest. Here flows the waters of Jones Falls, a stream that rises further north, creates a lake and then winds south for 29 kilometers through a valley that has had great historical importance as a transport route and is now known for its Jones Falls Trail, a 16-kilometer route to be done on foot or by bicycle parallel to the waterway, from the district of Cylburn to the Inner Harbor.



We continue the exploration of this port atHistoric Ships in Baltimore (also Maritime Museum, 301 E. Pratt St.), a floating, open-air museum, where the protagonists are a lighthouse and four historic military ships (from the mid 19th century to the 80s) including the frigate USS Constellation from the period of the civil war, the coastguard Taney, the submarine Cod and the lighthouse ship Chesapeake. The Knoll Lighthouse it is a raised lighthouse just over two meters high that stands out for its shape and color.

 

We find all five of them at a short distance from each other (at pier 1/3/5); tours, special events, even cannon fire and other initiatives are organized to properly appreciate them. Two ships can be visited at a cost of $ 15 from 21 to 59 years, $ 13 from 60 and from 15 to 20 while if you want to see the four boats plus the lighthouse the price becomes $ 18 or $ 16 depending on age . The visit times change according to the season and tickets can be purchased at pier 3. To experience the thrill of a concert in the evocative area of ​​this active inner harbor, we recommend the Mecu Pavilion (731 Eastern Avenue) which currently offers about 25 shows and concerts a year during the summer.

With its 123 meters, the World Trade Center (401 E. Pratt St.) is the tallest regular pentagonal building in the world but the interesting thing is the observatory on the 27th floor, called, "top of the world" from which you have a beautiful panoramic view. 360 °. Here there is also a memorial dedicated to 11/6 and we are told that shortly after the attack on the twin towers this building was also evacuated for safety reasons. (adults $ 60, over 5 $ 3, ages 12 to 4 $ XNUMX with seasonal visiting hours).



The next three museums are also suitable for those with children starting with Port (The Harbour District) Discovery (35 Market Pl.) Ranked by many newspapers among the best museums in the United States for the little ones. Here interactive activities take place and there are the “hands on” sections where the fact of touching with hand develops the imagination and increases knowledge. Admission costs $ 15.95 for ages 2 and up, open all year round at varying times depending on the season.

The interactive and "hands on" activities of Maryland Science Center (601 Light St.) introduce paleontology, in particular dinosaurs, the human body and astronomy inside a planetarium, a science laboratory and an IMAX theater, characterized by the large enveloping screen and the exciting films on Earth and Space. You can enter and exit as many times as you like within the same day wearing the identification bracelet. Cost including theater is $ 28.95 for adults, $ 22.95 for ages 62 and up and $ 22.95 for ages 3 to 12. Hours vary seasonally, closed on major holidays.

Among the guests of the National Aquarium (501 E. Pratt St.) You can see tons of sea creatures such as seals, dolphins, puffins, angelfish, bottle-nosed dolphins, eels, sharks, rays, crabs, jellyfish, octopuses and turtles. Several tours are available at different prices. Access to the aquarium costs $ 39.95 for adults, $ 34.95 for ages 65 and up and $ 22.95 for ages 3 to 12. It is good to check online the times of the month you are interested in and any discounts at certain times of the day.


THEAmerican Visionary Art Museum (800 Key Hwy) is a set of truly particular works, created by artists who have used all kinds of materials, giving life to works that deserve to be seen (from Tue to Sun 10 am-18pm, Adults 10 $, over 60 8 $, students $ 6). And always on the subject of curiosity and bizarre, the Ripley’s Belive It Or Not (301 Light St.) attracts visitors from all over the world for the oddities on display, some of which are disturbing and surreal. Here it is precisely the case that the abnormal is normal. It can be visited from Sunday to Thursday from 10 to 20 while on Fridays and Saturdays the opening is extended to 22. From 12 years upwards the cost is 18 $ while from 3 to 11 it is 12 $.


Of a completely different kind but also very appreciated, is theOrioles Park at Camden Yards (333 W. Camden St.) which hosts the Orioles games. It is considered one of the finest retro classic baseball fields (ballpark), a structure whose outer walls fit architecturally into the neighborhood. A curiosity on the subject: the famous baseball player Babe Ruth (New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox) was born here in Baltimore.

Find a ticket to the Baltimore Orioles

Mount Vernon

The area of Mount Vernon it is considered the cultural and artistic center of the city starting with the splendid one Walters Art Gallery (600 N. Charles St. overlooking Mount Vernon Sq.) Which houses specimens of classical Greek and Roman art, Byzantine silver artifacts, South Eastern and Chinese objects, Fabergè jewels, as well as works by Impressionist painters such as Monet, Manet and Rubens ( from Wednesday to Sunday 10 am-17pm except Thursday 10 am-21pm, Free).

In the square stands the Washington Monument (Mount Vernon Pl. & Washington Pl.), An impressive 54-meter tall marble Doric column completed in 1829 in honor of the first president, George Washington. From the top of the monument you have an excellent view of the city. Since 1971, on the first Thursday of December, to kick off the Christmas period, the column is illuminated.

La Baltimore Basilica (409 Cathedral St.), the first cathedral in the United States, dated 1821, is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven. The neoclassical building has a Greek portico with Ionic columns, inside there are many works of art, a dome dominates the altar and there are also a chapel and a crypt. Paid guided tours are available for a minimum of 10 people. Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa of Calcutta visited this beautiful church in 1995 and 1996 respectively. It is usually open from 8.30 to 16.

We move a little north and visit the Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church (1316 Park Ave.) is a Gothic Revival church from 1870 in which we notice the stained glass windows, the blue vaulted ceiling and the pipe organ in the presbytery. Baltimore Magazine called it "one of the most significant buildings in the city, a treasure trove of art and architecture" and we agree with this statement.

The buildings and the ethnic neighborhoods

In the waterfront area we reach Patterson park (bounded by E. Baltimore St., S. Patterson Park Ave., S. Linwood Ave., Eastdrn Ave.), a park created in 1827 accessible from sunrise to sunset. This green area is rightly known for its splendid Patterson Pagoda (E.Lombard St.), an "observatory" structure dating back to 1890. From mid-April to mid-October from 12 to 16 every Sunday you can climb the tower to admire the city center. In the park we also find a marble fountain, a lake in which to fish, there are ducks, herons, turtles, fields where you can practice sports, such as basketball, but also an operational swimming pool in summer and an active skating rink in winter.

Along the east bank of the city port, Fells Point it is an area with historic buildings in various styles, graceful and colorful buildings mainly in Victorian style, Greek Revival and Spanish Revival which house shops, restaurants and cafes. This is also a neighborhood where mostly German, Polish, Czechoslovakian, Ukrainian, Russian, Irish and Latin American immigrants reside. Instead the area of Higlandtown (Haven St., Baltimore St., Eastern Ave.) is traditionally inhabited by blue-collar workers, people from Germany, Poland, Spain, Greece, Ireland, Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Latin Americans. Here are houses with colorful facades built in late Victorian and 19th and 20th century revival styles.

 

We love to discover ethnic neighborhoods and keep on going Greektown (Lombard St., O 'Donnell St., Eastern Ave.) where the majority of the Greek population is concentrated who have opened many Hellenic restaurants here, worth a try. In the neighborhood stands out the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church (520 S. Ponca St.) dedicated to the homonymous saint inside which we can admire beautiful decorations and the typical iconography of the altar.

A Little Italy (bounded by E.Pratt St., President St., Fleet St., S.Eden St.) immigrants live in terraced houses, work in Italian restaurants and play in the bowling green of E.Pratt and Stiles street. Noteworthy is the St. Leo The Great Roman Catholic Church (227 S. Exeter St.), dating from 1881, a Spanish-Romanesque style brick church with a portico and rose window facade.

The places of the American anthem

At 844 E.Pratt Street we take a “leap” into the past, in the house of Mary Young Pickersgill called The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House where Mary made the American flag for strong citizen McHenry in 1813. Inside the building you know the whole story and have fun with interactive activities related to the flag (from Tue to Sat. 10-16, adults $ 9, seniors $ 8, from 6 years $ 7).

Il Fort mchenry proper (2400 E. Fort Ave.) today is a museum where you can admire historical exhibits and a rich collection of memorabilia related to military events. Interactive programs, flag-raising ceremonies and historical demonstrations are held outside. There are no refreshment points here and for this reason it is possible to bring your own food.

The major historical event that was fought there is the battle of 1814 (between the Americans and the British) during which the flag created by Mary Young Pichersgill flew which, together with the war events, inspired the lawyer, author and amateur poet from Maryland, Francis Scott Key, to compose some verses which then had the honor of being chosen as the American anthem (The star-spangled banner) on March 31, 1931.

The fort can be visited from 9am to 17pm and from Memorial Day (late May) to Labor Day (early September) the opening is extended until 18pm. The entrance ticket costs $ 15 from 16 years and is valid for seven days showing the receipt.

The actual flag however is not in Baltimore but you will have to go to the National Museum of American History which is located in the National Mall in Washington.

The other museums

Il Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum (901 W. Pratt St. - Mount Claire Station) is a site where you can see and get to know the most important railway collections in America with locomotives and wagons but also through documents and small objects that date back to the birth of the railway in the United States. Inside there is a gift shop and a cafeteria. It can be visited from Monday to Saturday from 10am to 16pm and on Sunday it opens at 11am. Tickets cost $ 20 for adults, $ 17 for over 60s and $ 12 for ages 2 to 12. The museum also offers train tours around the area.

All 'Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum (203 N. Amity St.) approximately 10 minutes from Inner Harbor. The celebrated Virginia-born writer lived and died in Baltimore. You can take a tour of his house from Thursday to Sunday from 11 to 16. The house is small and with serpentine stairs so it is not suitable for certain types of handicaps and pets are not allowed. The cost is $ 8 for ages 12 and up, $ 6 for students and $ 4 for ages 62 and up. Poe is buried at Westminster Burying Ground (Fayette and Green Sts.) Near his home.

Baltimore and crime: is it a safe city?

In recent years, the city of Baltimore has been the negative protagonist of numerous episodes of violence and crime, so much so that it has climbed to the top of the ranking of the most dangerous cities in the United States. Even the popular television series The Wire has contributed a lot to strengthen the representation of Baltimore as a violent city also in the collective imagination not only in the United States.

So the question arises: it is safe to visit Baltimore? The answer, despite the premises, is nonetheless affirmative. Tourist areas of the city such as Inner Harbor, Fells Point, Federal Hill and Mount Vernon are kept under close surveillance by local police and crime levels are in line with those of all major cities. Violent episodes in fact occur in the peripheral and more degraded areas that a tourist has no interest in visiting. So stay in the tourist districts and take the usual precautions.

Baltimore events

Various events take place in the city, some of which are ethnic in nature. In April takes place theIrish Traditional Fest in different locations around the city. This musical event features singing, dancing and music workshops as well as performances by various artists from the United States and Ireland specializing in Irish melodies and dances. Tickets have variable costs based on the event.

At Canton Waterfront Park (3001 Boston St.) every first Thursday night from May a September (17.30-22.30) singers and bands give life to concerts free that gather a lot of public in a party atmosphere that also sees the presence of street food vendors. In June at Greek Town Square takes place on St. Nicholas Greek Folk Festival, a free event that celebrates Greek culture with food, music, dance, art and jewelry sellers in a hospitable setting linked to devotion to the saint; a good opportunity to deepen your knowledge of Hellenic culture starting with the church that gives the event its name, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church (520 S. Ponca St.-Greektown).

Al Canton Waterfront Park (3001 Boston St.) in September takes place Baltimore Seafood Fest which celebrates local pride in the seafood used to create delicious dishes. For this reason some of the best restaurateurs in town serve their most renowned seafood dishes such as crab patty and soup, shrimp salad and oysters. Do not miss the particular blue crab typical of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Louisiana with a slightly sweet flavor and tender flesh. Live music, cooking demonstrations and an area dedicated to families complete the event. The cost of the ticket starts from $ 15 from 16 years upwards.

Presso la Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church (1723 E. Fairmount Ave.) si svolge in October il russian Festival with dances, music and choirs. The occasion allows you to taste food prepared by parish members and buy souvenirs mostly imported from Russia. From Thanksgiving Day (end of November) until the end of December the Inner Harbor is home to the atmospheric Christmas Village Market with the sale of food products and ornaments dedicated in particular to the Christmas theme.

Where to eat

You can't leave the city without trying the local cuisine. The Lexington Market (400 W. Lexington St.-downtown), the oldest market in the United States, is a large space where, since 1782, several food vendors have offered local foods and flavors from the world at very low cost and can be enjoyed on the spot . The building is open from 6 to 18 from Monday to Saturday and the stalls are open from 8.30 but, given the appreciation, the project is underway to extend the closing time.

In the Port Covington (S.Baltimore) area the Nick’s Fish House (2600 Insulator Dr.) specializes in fish. Here you can enjoy medium priced steamed prawns and crabs with onion and gravy, sandwiches with crab meat, cheeses, tomatoes and herbs, barbeque chicken wings, sandwiches with turkey, bacon, gouda cheese and red peppers, as well as various salad dishes. The restaurant, rustic in style with some modern touches and a long wooden patio facing the river, is open for lunch and dinner and offers live music from Thursday to Sunday.

In the Inner Harbor area we recommend, at medium-high prices, McCormick & Schmick’s (201 E. Pratt St.) which churns out classic American cuisine in a quiet atmosphere such as salad with candied nuts, cheese & balsamic vinegar, burger with cheddar cheese, crispy bacon & mushrooms, linguine with chicken, shrimp cocktail, barbeque ribs . Open for lunch and dinner, you can choose to eat indoors, on the patio (overlooking the warship located in the Inner Harbor) or at the bar.

At the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel (202 E. Pratt St.) the Watertable is a restaurant with contemporary American cuisine that is keen to point out to customers the use of natural, local, fresh and seasonal ingredients. Among the various proposals on the menu, we find crab soup, ribs with cheese and braised onions, burgers with fine angus meat, tomato, lettuce with mushrooms and Mac'nCheese. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it offers medium-high priced dishes in a refined venue. From the 5th floor there is an exceptional view of the Inner Harbor. On-site parking costs $ 28, so consider a metered one around Inner Harbor. Power Plant Live (34 Market Pl.), One block from Inner Harbor, is an address to note, a very popular reference point for catering (American, Italian, Mexican cuisine) and entertainment with bars and music venues.

Where to sleep in Baltimore

For those who decide to stay overnight in the city we point out some structures receptive keep in mind that many hotels in Inner Harbor and downtown have paid parking. Two blocks from Inner Harbor and Convention Center l’Hampton Inn & Suites Inner Harbor (131 E. Redwood St.) is located in a historic building from 1906. The rooms are spacious, equipped with wi-fi, microwave and refrigerator. The studio suites have extra space and a sofa bed. The hotel features an indoor heated swimming pool, fitness center, business center, gift shop, snack shop, laundry and breakfast is included in the rate. Pets are not allowed and parking costs $ 35.

Minutes from the Inner Harbor Best Western Plus Hotel & Conference Center (5625 O'Donnell St.) offers rooms with tea / coffee maker, microwave, refrigerator and wi-fi. Guests have access to wi-fi, laundry, restaurant, meeting room, business room, free parking, heated indoor pool and breakfast included. Pets are not allowed.

Within walking distance of the Inner Harbor 1840s Carrollton Inn (50 Albemarle St.) is a boutique hotel made up of a series of terraced houses dating from the 19th century. The rooms and suites with a pleasant antique flavor are all furnished in a different way, however, with a refrigerator, microwave and wi-fi. Some have fireplaces and jacuzzis. The property has private parking and a garden with a large courtyard area. Rates are for double occupancy with an additional $ 25 for an additional occupant and breakfast is included.

Near the Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum theHI – Baltimore Hostel (17 W. Mulberry St.) is another option. It is located in a terraced house, a structure with patio and parking area. Breakfast is included in the rate, guests have at their disposal a kitchen and a beautiful antique-style lounge. Being a hostel, however well maintained, the rooms are shared with other guests.

Find a hotel in Baltimore

Baltimore environs

If you are planning an east coast itinerary you will notice that Baltimore is in a fortunate position between Philadelphia and Washington DC, making it a great stopover for visiting these two cities. In fact, it will take you about an hour to reach the American capital, while to visit Philadelphia just under two hours. If you are wondering how long it will take you to reach New York, expect at least three and a half hours.

Also on the coast between Baltimore and Washington is the pretty town of Annapolis, the capital of Maryland, which with its characteristic historic brick houses and its marina overlooking the Chesapeake Bay it is definitely a recommended stop if you want to experience the feeling of taking a step back in time.

A few minutes' drive from Baltimore is also the peninsula ofEastern Shore with its typical fishing villages and rural landscapes which, with their farms and wooden churches, recall the views that can be admired in the southern states.

Still on the subject of nature, about an hour's drive away you can reach the Great Falls park in Virginia where you can follow the evolution of the Potomac River, which creates graceful waterfalls before reaching the city of Washington.

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