Boston Places of Worship Tour, Boston (Self Guided)

Boston's many great churches are among the most precious of the city's numerous architectural jewels. What makes these artworks special are their unique styles, elegant facades and centuries of history. Take our tour and experience these must-see wonders of Boston.
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Boston Places of Worship Tour Map

Guide Name: Boston Places of Worship Tour
Guide Location: USA » Boston (See other walking tours in Boston)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.3 km
Author: anna
Old North Church

1) Old North Church (must see)

Old North Church (officially, Christ Church in the City of Boston), at 193 Salem Street, in the North End of Boston, is the location from which the famous "One if by land, and two if by sea" signal is said to have been sent. This phrase is related to Paul Revere's midnight ride, of April 18, 1775, which preceded the Battles of Lexington and Concord during the American Revolution. It is the oldest active church building in Boston and is a National Historic Landmark.

Inside the church is a bust of George Washington, which the Marquis de Lafayette reportedly remarked as the best likeness of him he had ever seen. Old North Church was built in 1723 and was inspired by the works of Christopher Wren, the British architect who was responsible for rebuilding London after the Great Fire. Eight change ringing bells at Old North Church were cast in Gloucester, Massachusetts in 1744 and hung in 1745.

Why You Should Visit:
Knowledgeable guide inside the church! There is a charge for entry, but you can always have a good look around the grounds adjacent, where there's plenty to see and read about.

The full tour here (for only $2 more than general admission) takes about a half hour and you get to go partially up the bell tower and down into the crypt, among other things.

Opening Hours:
Mon, Wed-Sat: 9am-6pm (Apr-Oct); Mon, Wed-Sat: 10am-4pm (Nov-Mar)
Tour times are listed on the website. The church is closed to visitors on Tuesday.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Old West Church

2) Old West Church

The Old West Church at 131 Cambridge Street, is a historic church located in the West End of Boston, built in 1806 to designs by architect Asher Benjamin. Old West's preaching played a major role in American history. Jonathan Mayhew, the church's second Congregational pastor, coined the phrase, "no taxation without representation" in a sermon in Old West. Today's Old West Church is thus the second church on the site. As in the architect's earlier Charles Street Meeting House (1804), its three-and-a-half story brick entry tower is crowned with a cupola; the whole tower projects outward somewhat from the church hall behind. Four shallow brick pilasters, each two stories high and trimmed with white wood, separate the three entry doors. Each door is echoed with window above it. On the final half-story beneath the cupola are clocks on each face of the tower, each adorned with a light swag. On the back wall, the original central pulpit window has been filled in with brickwork.
Sight description based on wikipedia
King's Chapel

3) King's Chapel (must see)

King's Chapel is an independent Christian unitarian congregation affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association that is "unitarian Christian in theology, Anglican in worship, and congregational in governance." It is housed in what was formerly called "Stone Chapel", an 18th-century structure at the corner of Tremont Street and School Street in Boston. The chapel building, completed in 1754, is one of the finest designs of the noted colonial architect Peter Harrison and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960 for its architectural significance.

Inside, the church is characterized by wooden columns with Corinthian capitals that were hand-carved by William Burbeck and his apprentices in 1758. The current uniform appearance of the pews dates from the 1920s. Music has long been an important part of King's Chapel, which acquired its first organ in 1723. The present organ, the sixth installed in King's Chapel, was built by C. B. Fisk in 1964. The burying ground at King's Chapel is the site of the graves of many historic figures.

Why You Should Visit:
Another example of a historically relevant edifice in the heart of Boston.
Architecturally speaking, it is simple, yet the craft of the details is exceptional.

Entry into the church is free; however, donations are accepted at the front entrance.
They offer a couple tours (Bells & Bones + Art & Architecture) for a fee – take them!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm (Apr-Oct); Fri, Sat, Mon: 10am-4pm; Sun: 1:30-4pm (Nov-Mar)
Sight description based on wikipedia
Park Street Church

4) Park Street Church (must see)

The Park Street Church (built 1810) in Boston, Massachusetts is an active Conservative Congregational Church at the corner of Tremont Street and Park Street. Park Street church's steeple rises to 217 feet and remains a landmark visible from several Boston neighborhoods. The steeple is seen as the terminus of both Columbus Avenue and Tremont Street, two of Boston's radial avenues. The church is adjacent to the historic Granary Burying Ground. The cornerstone of the church was laid on May 1 and construction was completed by the end of the year, under the guidance of Peter Banner (architect), Benajah Young (chief mason) and Solomon Willard (woodcarver). Banner took inspiration from several early pattern books, and his design is reminiscent of a London church by Christopher Wren. The church became known as "Brimstone Corner", in part because of the missionary character of its preaching, and in part because of the storage of gunpowder during the War of 1812.

Why You Should Visit:
Considering the size of so many skyscrapers and tall buildings across the U.S. today, it's interesting to think that this was the tallest building in the country during its early years.
Worth walking by to admire the architecture.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Church of the Covenant

5) Church of the Covenant (must see)

The Church of the Covenant (a merger of Central Congregational Church and First Presbyterian Church) is a Boston landmark, built in 1865-1867 by the Central Congregational Church and now affiliated with the Presbyterian Church and the United Church of Christ.

Built of Roxbury puddingstone in Gothic Revival style, it was one of the first churches to relocate in the new Back Bay and was built largely with funds donated by Benjamin E. Bates, an industrialist who founded Bates College. Designed by Richard M. Upjohn, the son & partner of Richard Upjohn, who insisted on "a high Gothic edifice ... which no ordinary dwelling house would overtop." It has a 240-foot high steeple, that overtops the Bunker Hill Monument. In the 1890s the sanctuary was redecorated by Tiffany Glass and Decorating Co. with stained-glass windows and mosaics and an electric-light chandelier designed by Tiffany's Jacob Adolphus Holzer for the World's Columbian Exhibition, Chicago, 1893.

Why You Should Visit:
While there are several famous churches in the neighborhood, this one is distinguished by its 42 Tiffany stain-glass windows, the largest collection anywhere.
It is said that these paintings include at least 9 types of specialty glass and up to 5 layers that allow for creative, painterly effects. Beautiful is an understatement.

Tours are given daily in season; donations accepted. Be sure to get a free brochure that will bring the Tiffany glass to life. Or if you are lucky, you may have a docent to show you the highlights.
If you arrive in time for the 10:30 service on Sunday and are so inclined, you can feel welcomed by the very friendly congregation and the restored Welte organ, a must for organ fans.
Sight description based on wikipedia
First Baptist Church

6) First Baptist Church

First Baptist Church (or "Brattle Square Church") is a historic Baptist church established in 1665. It first met secretly on Noddle's Island and then in the North End of Boston, Massachusetts. Since 1882 it has been located at the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Clarendon Street in the Back Bay. Featuring ivy-covered walls and a prominent tower with distinctive carvings by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi (sculptor of the Statue of Liberty) representing four sacraments, with faces of famous Bostonians (including Longfellow and Hawthorne), Abraham Lincoln, and Bartholdi's friends of that era.(including 'Garibaldi'). This building highlights many of the Richardsonian Romanesque qualities that would later be shown in the nearby Trinity Church, one of Richardson's masterpieces. The Baptist Church's tower can clearly be seen as part of Boston's skyline when viewed from the Cambridge side of the Charles river.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Old South Church

7) Old South Church (must see)

Old South Church is a church of the United Church of Christ in Boston, Massachusetts. The church building was designed between 1870 and 1872 by the Boston architectural firm of Cummings and Sears in the Venetian Gothic style. The style follows the precepts of the British cultural theorist and architectural critic John Ruskin (1819–1900) as outlined in his treatise The Stones of Venice. Old South Church in Boston remains one of the most significant examples of Ruskin's influence on American architecture. A tall tower or campanile is the trademark feature of Old South and is visible from several Boston neighborhoods. The tower, on the western end of the church, rises to a height of 246' and houses the church's 2020 pound bell. The interior of Old South is exuberant yet quietly modulates the mix of rich materials: highly carved Italian cherry woodwork, limestone, stenciled plaster, and stained glass.

Why You Should Visit:
Beautiful example of "Venetian Gothic" church architecture.
The old ornate wood pews, stained glass, and architecture all testify to its mid-19th-century construction.
The vibrancy of the colors is unreal, especially if you're lucky enough to visit when the sun's rays hit the windows.

Try to visit when a concert is scheduled. An organ concert may be the best moment.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 8am-7pm (or later); Sat: 10am-4pm; Sun: 8:30am-7pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Trinity Church

8) Trinity Church (must see)

After its former site on Summer Street burned in the Great Boston Fire of 1872, the current church complex was erected under the direction of Rector Phillips Brooks, one of the best-known and most charismatic preachers of his time. The church and parish house were designed by Henry Hobson Richardson and construction took place from 1872 to 1877, when the complex was consecrated. Situated on Copley Square in Back Bay, Trinity Church is the building that established Richardson's reputation. It is the birthplace and archetype of the Richardsonian Romanesque style, characterized by a clay roof, polychromy, rough stone, heavy arches, and a massive tower. The building's plan is a modified Greek Cross with four arms extending outwards from the central tower, which stands 211 ft tall. Trinity Church is the only building from the original 1885 list still included in the American Institute of Architects's current top ten list.

Why You Should Visit:
Fantastically impressive church, especially from the outside where it's just profoundly architecturally outstanding – almost ornate in its appearance.
Positioned in Copley Square so plenty of opportunities to sit a while and enjoy it and other impressive, though different, buildings in the vicinity.

Go in and take the self-guided audio tour – you won't be disappointed.

Opening Hours:
Sun: 7:45am-8pm; Tue: 10am-5pm; Wed-Sat: 9am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
First Church of Christ Scientist the Mother Church

9) First Church of Christ Scientist the Mother Church

In Boston’s Back Bay area stands a 14 acre complex open to visitors; it is the administrative headquarters and the First Church of Christ Scientist Mother Church.

The Christian Science movement was founded by Mary Baker Eddy in 1879 and the First Church was consecrated in 1894. The Mother Church Extension was built in the Byzantine style in 1906. The lower half of the walls in the interior of the church are extensively decorated in mosaic, above which are elegant stencilled Italian-style frescoes. The floor is Italian marble. The church boasts of having the world’s largest pipe organ, built in 1952 by the Aeolian-Skinner Company.

In 1935 the Christian Science Centre installed a magnificent Mapparium by Rand McNally. The Mapparium is a stained glass globe showing the “political world” of that time, projected by a light and sound display. Also in the complex are reading rooms where you can read or buy the Bible, bible-related material and all of Mary Baker Eddy’s writings.

In 1960 a plaza with fountains and benches was installed in the complex, which is very popular with tourists and Bostonians alike. At visit to the church and the complex is a great way of spending and afternoon.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Boston, Massachusetts

Create Your Own Walk in Boston

Create Your Own Walk in Boston

Creating your own self-guided walk in Boston is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Boston Nightlife Tour

Boston Nightlife Tour

Boston is one of the most sparkling and vibrant cities for nightlife in the US. Bostonians, tourists and Hollywood stars alike flock to the dance clubs here. Become one of the in-crowd by taking our tour of the best nightlife spots in the city of Boston.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 km
Cultural Walk in Boston

Cultural Walk in Boston

Through Boston's many theaters, cinemas, museums, art galleries, and concert halls, you can discover another side to this great city. Some of these cultural venues date as far back as the beginning of the 20th Century, and how well a show is received by audiences here can often determine whether it will succeed on Broadway. Take our tour to see the best artistic parts of the city.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.7 km
Boston Museums Walking Tour

Boston Museums Walking Tour

Boston's rich historical past is carefully nourished by the city's many museums. Inside these museums you'll find unique works of art, scientific wonders and many other objects that illuminate the past. Take our walking tour to discover the best museums in the city.

Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 9.0 km
Historical Cambridge Walking Tour

Historical Cambridge Walking Tour

If you're a history buff, the Cambridge district of Boston has a number of great historical architectural artworks to visit. Inside the walls of these places you can see history in action and find some great stuff that's not in the history books. Take our tour to discover the amazing facts and sights of Cambridge.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 km
Kids Entertainment Tour in Boston

Kids Entertainment Tour in Boston

When it comes to the best entertainment for kids, Boston's got a winning combination: Swan boats, fresh ice cream, unique plants and animals, delicious cookies and much more. There's also the chance to make learning fun with the use of hands-on science exhibits. Take our Kids Entertainment Tour to discover the most fun you can have in Boston.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.7 km
Boston Famous Historical Sites Tour

Boston Famous Historical Sites Tour

Boston is one of the oldest cities in the USA. Its beginnings date back to September 1630 as the "City on a Hill". Through the centuries, the city has witnessed many historical turns of events such as the Boston Tea Party, the Battle of Lexington and Concord, and the Battle of Bunker Hill. All left marks not only in Boston's history but also on the architectural structure of the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.4 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

Boston's Marblehead Eateries

Boston's Marblehead Eateries

With such a diverse variety of dining cuisines and styles, the little town of Marblehead has something to satisfy every budget and culinary palate. You won't find any neon here, none is allowed in town and there are no fast food or drive-thrus establishments either. Most are quaint and...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Boston for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Boston has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting Boston's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the Boston CityPASS or GO Boston Card.

A city pass combines all or multiple Boston's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip lines at major attractions, thus saving your precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Boston hotels conveniently located for a comfortable stroll: Boston Omni Parker House Hotel, The Bostonian Boston, Ames Boston Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Boston, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Boston typically costs somewhere between US$35 and US$80 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off trolley to enjoy sightseeing of Boston in comfort listening to a live on-board commentary from a local expert, and be able get on and off at any of the stops along the route as often as you like. The tickets are valid for one or two days.

- Pack your “very best of Boston” experience in just one day with the help of a fully narrated sightseeing tour covering all of the city's key historic attractions, including those in the neighboring Massachusetts cities of Cambridge, Lexington and Concord, dating back to the times of the American Revolutionary War.

- Feel the spirit of Boston on a guided, 2-hour walk through the Downtown area on the popular Freedom Trail visiting the locations of great historical importance for the United States. If you're a history buff, this tour is definitely for you!

- Summon your guts and sense of adventure to dig deep into the ghastly side of Boston on a scary, yet fun and informative frightseeing tour set to bring light to some of the darkest corners of the city and relay the stories of the unfortunate souls and sinister characters that once walked the streets of Boston.

- Pedal your way around Boston on a 3-hour educational and fun bike tour to appreciate the city's most spectacular sights while stopping at some of them for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning interesting facts about the attractions en route from a knowledgeable group leader.

- Spend another three hours in a most tasteful way on a walk led by an expert guide to explore the culinary scene of Boston. Along with the freshest seafood food and other delights, you will acquaint yourself with Boston's Little Italy, learn the history of this neighborhood and some fascinating facts about its most favorite dishes.

Day Trips

If you have a full or half day to spare whilst in Boston, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations like Cambridge, Lexington and Concord, New England coast, Salem, Martha's Vineyard, or Plimoth. For as little as circa US$50+ to US$105 per person you will get a chance to discover several nearby Massachusetts cities that left mark in the American history, stand on the legendary battlefield and visit other locations that played a prominent role in the American Revolutionary and Civil Wars, capture the beautiful scenery of the New England coast replete with postcard-worthy beaches, harbors, wetlands, rugged cliffs and lighthouses, travel along the rocky coast of Maine to one of the most iconic lighthouses in the U.S., learn the fascinating history of the Salem Witch Trials, see the birthplace of the American Navy, explore Boston's original Martha's Vineyard, or step back in time for a glimpse of life of the Pilgrims back in the 1600s with a chance to interact with the costumed actors reenacting the Pilgrims' daily chores in the English colony. For any of these tours you will be picked up either straight from your hotel or a designated place in Boston and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned coach to the destination of your choice and back again.