University of Pittsburgh Cathedral of Learning (Tours & Rooms)

Prepare to be captivated by the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning, an extraordinary attraction that will transport you to different corners of the world without ever leaving Pittsburgh. 

Within its walls, you’ll discover 30 nationality rooms, each meticulously decorated in the style of its respective country by Pittsburgh’s vibrant ethnic communities.

This architectural masterpiece serves as a testament to the city’s rich cultural heritage and offers a truly immersive experience for visitors of all ages.

The Cathedral of Learning is 42 stories high, making it the tallest educational building in North America (and one of the tallest in the word)

This gorgeous Gothic Revival/Art Deco tower reigns over Oakland with a commanding awesome presence.

Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, or simply looking for a unique family outing, the Cathedral of Learning is bound to leave you inspired and enlightened.

Source: Cathedral of Learning

What to expect

If you find yourself in Pittsburgh, the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning is an absolute must-see. Trust me, I’ve been there multiple times with my kids, and it never fails to captivate us.

The sheer magnificence of the structure, both inside and outside, is truly a sight to behold.

Source: University of Pittsburgh Cathedral of Learning

As you step foot inside, you’ll be greeted by a blend of lovely architecture that might remind you of scenes from the Harry Potter movies.

It’s a place where imagination and learning collide, creating an enchanting atmosphere.

One of the highlights of the Cathedral of Learning is its unique setup of classrooms, each representing a different country.

Source: University of Pittsburgh Cathedral of Learning

As you explore the building, you’ll encounter these themed classes, complete with audio descriptions, music, and even distinctive scents that transport you to different parts of the world.

It’s an immersive experience that engages all your senses.

Whether you have a keen interest in history or education, or simply appreciate the beauty of learning environments, you’ll find the Cathedral of Learning to be a fascinating visit.

The blend of architectural grandeur and educational ambience is truly something to behold.

Source: University of Pittsburgh Cathedral of Learning

Nationality Rooms

The University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning is home to the magnificent Nationality Rooms.

At first glance, it may sound like a silly conceptโ€”rooms in a larger building decorated in the style and architecture of different ethnic and national groups.

However, these rooms are a must-see for any visitors coming to Pittsburgh for the first time.

One of the things that impressed me about the Nationality Rooms was their easy access, welcoming environment, and excellent maintenance.

Source: University of Pittsburgh Cathedral of Learning

Once inside, I was amazed by the authenticity of each room.

Every single detail had been meticulously thought out, making the experience truly immersive.

The Nationality Rooms feature genuine items from the respective countries, accompanied by informative paragraphs explaining their significance.

Note: To visit these rooms, it’s important to note that you need to book a guided tour in advance. Don’t worry, the reservation process is simple. Just fill out a reservation form online, and within 30 minutes, you’ll receive a confirmation letter by email. Payment for the tour will be made on arrival at the gift shop inside the Cathedral of Learning.

One event I would hate to miss is their holiday open house, where each room is beautifully decorated according to the country’s winter holiday traditions.

Volunteers dressed in traditional attire provide insights into how each country celebrates.

Source: University of Pittsburgh Cathedral of Learning

As you enter each room, be sure to press the switch near the light switch.

Doing so will treat you to the music of the country and a narration about the architecture, furnishings, and objects in the exhibit cases. It’s a delightful way to engage with the room’s cultural elements.

On the third floor, I encountered a diverse range of rooms, from the opulence of the Austrian room with its rich, red velvet and chandeliers to the simplicity of the Early American room.

Source: University of Pittsburgh Cathedral of Learning

I found the Nationality Rooms to be an excellent educational opportunity for children to learn about different cultures. Each room offers a unique glimpse into the traditions and customs of a specific country.

Unfortunately, during my visit, I was unable to explore the rooms on the first floor as they were occupied by actual students.

Nevertheless, I highly recommend experiencing the Nationality Rooms as they are a true gem within the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning.

Source: University of Pittsburgh Cathedral of Learning

Information and Gift Center

Begin your visit at the Information and Gift Center located at the Fifth Avenue entrance. This is the perfect starting point to explore the University of Pittsburgh’s remarkable Cathedral of Learning.

You’ll find valuable information about the Cathedral of Learning at the Information and Gift Center.

Learn about its rich history, fascinating architecture, and renowned Nationality Rooms. Discover the stories behind each room and the cultural heritage they represent.

Source: University of Pittsburgh Cathedral of Learning

While you’re there, take the opportunity to purchase tickets for the Cathedral of Learning tours.

These tours are available every day and offer a fantastic opportunity to delve deeper into the wonders of this iconic building.

Led by knowledgeable guides, the tours typically last about an hour, giving you a comprehensive insight into the Cathedral’s unique features and significance.

Good to know before you go

  • You never know which classrooms may be closed because they are in use by the university. Because of that, we missed the first-floor rooms. You may want to try and call ahead
  • Wear comfortable shoes to enjoy your visit as the building is quite large and you will be doing a lot of walking.

Admission & Tickets

Admission to the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning is FREE. However, if you want to take a guided tour then it is $10 for adults and $6 for 18 and under.

You can purchase tickets online or at the door.

Hours & When to go

The hours listed for the Cathedral of Learning are 9 am to 4 pm on weekdays and 11 am to 4 pm on Sundays.

However, we were able to see the entire third floor until 4 pm.

Getting there & Parking

The Cathedral of Learning is located at 4200 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260, in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

It is the centerpiece of the University of Pittsburgh’s main campus.

Metered parking is available on all sides of the Cathedral of Learning, Monday through Saturday. On Sundays, there is no charge for parking at the meters.

The Soldiers and Sailors Garage, located at Fifth Avenue and Bigelow Boulevard, is the closest parking garage.

Photo of author

OK Editorial Team

Our Kids has been bringing you more family fun, experiences & adventure since 1999.