Baltimore is the largest city in Maryland and an important seaport on the wide estuary of the Patapsco River. With famous Johns Hopkins University, museums and a renowned symphony orchestra, Baltimore is a major east coast cultural center. It was the birthplace of Edgar Allan Poe.
The settlement of Baltimore was established in 1729 and named after the Barons Baltimore, founders of the colony of Maryland. Commerce and shipping brought it prosperity, in 1796 it was granted its municipal charter. Its place in American history was won in 1814, when British forces bombarded Fort Henry for 25 hours without bringing about its surrender. The sight of the American flag still flying over the fort on the morning after the bombardment inspired Francis Scott Key’s poem “The Star Spangled Banner”, which became the text of the national anthem.
1. Walters Art Gallery
Located in the Mount Vernons Cultural District, Walters Art Gallery is a cultural institution of international renown. It is one of a few museums worldwide who present a comprehensive history of art from the third millennium B.C. to the early 20th century. Walters Art Gallery have a fine collection of ivories, jewelry, enamels and bronzes, a large reserve of illuminated manuscripts and rare books. The Walters’ Egyptian, Greek and Roman, Byzantine, Ethiopian and western medieval art collections are extensive, as are the museum’s holdings of Renaissance and Asian art. Every major trend in French painting during the 19th century is represented by one or more works in the collection.
2. American Visionary Art Museum
Displays the work of self-taught artists in six galleries. The main building’s architecture is an artistic creation, winning many international and national awards for its design and beauty. The sculpture barn, formerly the Four Roses whiskey warehouse, houses towering exhibits.
3. Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
Just 3 miles southeast of the city centre via Key Highway and Fort Avenue is Fort McHenry, built between 1798 and 1803 to command the harbor entrance. In 1814 it withstood a 24 hour bombardment by a British warship and thus saved Baltimore from occupation. In the fort’s Visitor Center are displays and a film on the history of the fort, referring to the origins of the national anthem, the ‘The Star Spangled Banner’. However, the original of the famous flag now hangs in the Museum of American History in Washington, DC.
4. Baltimore Museum of Art
Is the largest art museum in Maryland with art from around the world, covering a broad spectrum of periods and styles. The permanent collection includes the world’s largest collection of works by Matisse. Other notable artists represented include Picasso, Cezanne, van Gogh, Warhol, and many others.
5. Fell’s Point
Is a historic area along the waterfront that has been beautifully restored. The old harbor quarter of Fell’s Point was once the shipbuilding district of Baltimore, with places of entertainment for the seamen. Behind the brick facades of this beautifully restored quarter are mainly restaurants, cafes, and shops.
6. Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum
Pratt Street runs west to the Mount Clare Railroad Station of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, from which the first passenger train in the United States ran west to Ellicott’s Mills in 1830. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum takes in the Mount Clare Station (1851), the Print Shop (1884) and a roundhouse that now houses an excellent collection of historic locomotives. The centrepiece is the turntable, which connects with 22 lines containing locomotives and coaches. With only a few exceptions all the exhibits are originals and in working order. In front of the building is a large open area with more locomotives. There is also a miniature railway system.
7. Johns Hopkins University
Founded in 1876, Johns Hopkins University was the first research university in the United States. The university operates the Homewood House Museum. Homewood was built in 1801 with a $10,000 wedding gift from Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, to his son. Homewood is noted for the Federal Period architectural detail throughout both the exterior and the interior. This home is restored and furnished with early 19th century decorative and fine arts.
8. National Aquarium
Located on Pier 3 and 4, the National Aquarium in Baltimore is a joint effort with another location in Washington, DC. The aquarium in Baltimore features marine life in various exhibits, from sharks and dolphins, to hundreds of exotic species found in the Atlantic Coral Reef Exhibit. Of particular note is the five-storey Tropical Rain Forest, with all kinds of birds, frogs, and a variety of larger mammals, such as sloths and monkeys.
9. Maryland Science Center
The southwest corner of the Inner Harbor is occupied by the modern Maryland Science Center, with a planetarium. On its three floors are scientific displays, some of which include topics related to space travel and physics. Entertaining and educational scientific experiments offer hands on learning opportunities.
Harborplace, an attractive modern complex with two glass-enclosed pavilions in historical style, is both a shopping centre and market, with large number of shops, restaurants and open spaces. Street artists display their skills in the Amphitheater on the Promenade.