Get your fill in Philly

Sunday Mail - Travel/Escape - - FRONT PAGE -

John Hux­ley dis­cov­ers Rocky film lo­ca­tions and fas­ci­nat­ing mu­se­ums in this his­toric city.

INCE its foun­da­tion more than three cen­turies ago, Philadel­phia has been called many things: “the city of broth­erly love”, “the cra­dle of lib­erty” and “the birth­place of Amer­ica”.

But this hot, hu­mid Sun­day morn­ing, a quick check of vis­i­tor queues, self­ieshot back­drops and sou­venir stores sug­gests the city’s main at­trac­tion is a fic­tional movie star – boxer Rocky Bal­boa.

A larger-than-life, bronze statue of the heavy­weight, played through six gory films by Sylvester Stal­lone, stands on the steps lead­ing up to the Philadel­phia Mu­seum of Art, arms out­stretched in cel­e­bra­tion.

“Run­ning up the steps, strik­ing the pose, get­ting the money-shot, has be­come a rite of pas­sage for ev­ery vis­i­tor to ‘Philly’,” our guide says. “But be pre­pared to wait in line.”

The statue is one stop on a walk­ing tour which ex­plores the city the boxer called home.

We also see the Ital­ian mar­ket he ran through and Pat’s King of Steaks, where he stopped for “Philly” cheesesteak, a lo­cal spe­cial­ity. We see Penn’s Land­ing, where he jogged, and the zoo where he pro­posed to girl­friend Adrian.

For­tu­nately, for those want­ing to learn more about the city, its real peo­ple and their role in his­tory, there is an es­cape – the bench hur­dled by Rocky in In­de­pen­dence Na­tional His­tory Park.

As any­one who has vis­ited its civil war bat­tle­grounds will at­test, no city in the world does his­tory bet­ter than the Amer­i­cans.

The park vis­i­tor cen­tre has mo­bile apps, guided tours, ex­plana­tory and ex­ploratory movies and plenty of beau­ti­ful brochures – all free. The nearby Lib­erty Bell Cen­tre tells the story of the cracked icon that sym­bol­ises free­dom.

But the high­light is a free, guided visit to In­de­pen­dence Hall, the for­mer Penn­syl­va­nia state house. It was here that the Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence was drawn-up and in 1776 adopted, as Amer­ica sev­ered ties with Great Bri­tain.

In the orig­i­nal hall, our guide Larry McClen­ney who, de­spite his Scot­tish-sound­ing name, is a tall, eru­dite, black man from

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