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The Palestra, Cathedral of College Basketball

The Palestra, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is one of the most historic and revered college basketball arenas in the United States.

The Palestra, short for “Pennsylvania” in Greek, was constructed in 1927 on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. Designed by architect Herbert Maier, it was initially built to serve as a multi-purpose arena.

"The arena has hosted countless historic games, tournaments, and memorable performances by legendary players and teams."

While primarily known for hosting basketball games, The Palestra was designed to accommodate various sports and events. It became a hub for basketball and boxing matches, concerts, political events, and more.

The Palestra quickly gained fame as the “Cathedral of College Basketball.” Its intimate setting, seating approximately 8,700 spectators, and unique design added to its allure. The court was originally raised above the ground level, a feature that set it apart from other arenas.

Over the years, The Palestra witnessed numerous iconic basketball moments. It became a regular venue for the annual Philadelphia Big 5 matchups, where five Philadelphia-area college basketball teams compete against each other. The arena has hosted countless historic games, tournaments, and memorable performances by legendary players and teams.

Beyond sports, The Palestra holds historical significance. It has been a focal point for civil rights events and discussions, hosting speakers such as Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy.

While maintaining its classic charm, The Palestra underwent renovations and updates over time to improve facilities and modernize certain aspects while preserving its historic character.



Even as newer arenas have emerged, The Palestra continues to hold a special place in the hearts of basketball fans. Its rich history, unique architecture, and the memories created within its walls have cemented its status as a beloved and iconic venue in the world of college basketball.

The Palestra stands as a testament to the rich tradition and passion for basketball in Philadelphia and across the nation, earning its reputation as one of the most revered and historic arenas in college sports.

Picture of Randy Holcomb

Randy Holcomb

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