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The Pagoda, Reading
(4.1/5 based on 280+ reviews on the web)
The Pagoda is a novelty building, built atop the south end of Mount Penn overlooking Reading, Pennsylvania, United States. It has been a symbol of the city for more than a century.HistoryCompleted in 1908 at a cost of $50,000, this pagoda was intended to be the hotel/restaurant centerpiece of a luxury resort. When plans for the rest of the resort were abandoned, the 7-story wooden building on of land was donated to Reading in 1911. It is now part of the Mount Penn Reserve, of municipally-owned land.The Pagoda is wide, long, and tall. Perched on the edge of a cliff, above the city and above sea level, it offers a 30mi panoramic view of the city and the surrounding countryside.Within the top story hangs a tocsin, a massive bell cast in Obata, Mie Prefecture, Japan, in 1739, and formerly installed in a Buddhist temple in either Ogose or Hannō, Saitama Prefecture, just north of Tokyo. Listed on the bell's sides in Old Japanese (kanji) characters are the names of its 48 donors and a prophecy about the end of time. The temple was closed in 1881, and later destroyed.Anti-Japanese sentiment was rampant during World War II, and there were calls to demolish the building. But it was restored in 1949, with the lower story and balconies rebuilt in stone. In 1960, neon lights were installed outlining its roofs. In the 1970s, the Japanese garden was restored, and Japanese cherry trees were planted around the building. LED lights were installed in 2008-09. A webcam on its third floor periodically records and publishes the weather atop Mount Penn.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • Everyone can see the Pagoda on the mountain and it is a unique place to visit. There are hiking trails around it as well. Go inside to climb to the top to look out to get an even better view over the ...  more »
  • Some of the fun getting to the Reading pagoda is the drive up Duryia Dr., to the top of the mountain. How many pagodas have any of us seen let alone get to go in and go to the top for a high surprise....  more »
  • I guess this is the thing to see in Reading so we went to check it out. It's a free attraction with a donation box inside. The gift shop and "cafe" were not very extensive. It has some nice views. Cli...  more »
Google
  • This is definitely a landmark in Reading that is worth seeing at least once. Where else in Berks, Lancaster, Lebanon counties can you see such a unique middle eastern structure?. The skyline is magnificent at dusk. Travel up the road and see the fire tower as well. This is one of those places to get an ice cream and travel up to with someone special and enjoy it, your company and the sunset.
  • A nice place to visit. One must try to be there just before sunset so the dusk will enchant you r mind and later the moonlight creates the magic.
  • Great view of the reading skyline, there is a cafe inside. I prefer to visit at night versus the day when the pagoda and all of the reading skyline is lit up. There are parking spaces to park at and walk around.
  • This Landmark on top of the mountain overlooks the city. There is ample parking in the area. Entrance fee to go to the top of the Pagoda is minimal. Only way to get to the top is by a narrow stair way. However once you get to the top, the views are gorgeous. Don't forget to stop by the gift shop to pick up a souvenir or two. Great opportunity to take pictures of the town at the base of the mountain for interesting perspective. There are no food options at the site. The nearest food in about 10 to 15 minute drive down the mountain and the main city.
  • How many Pennsylvania cities have a Japanese building towering over them, so much so that it's an iconic and beloved symbol? The only one is Reading. The Pagoda's rooflines were once illuminated by red fluorescent tubes. In the past 10 or so years, the tubes were exchanged for LED bulbs, providing a far brighter and sharper view at night. The view of the Schuylkill River valley to the west and south is remarkable. To the right is Reading Regional Airport (no commercial service), directly ahead is downtown Reading, and to the left are the eastern wards of the city leading to the borough of Mt. Penn. Ask to borrow the wooden mallet from the gift shop on days the Pagoda is open (currently Saturday's, check schedule). Then proceed to the top floor, find the brass temple bell, and strike it with the mallet. A unique experience, only in Reading. To the north of the Pagoda along Skyline Drive is the William Penn Fire Tower. Now closed to visitors, it was built to monitor fires on and off Mount Penn.