The Boston Back-Bay 1 trek, a 2 miles self-guided tour to explore some hidden treasures of Back-Bay and feel the wealth of the area, will take you from 2 to 4 hours to complete depending of what you do.

You’ll see art, historic buildings, upscale shops, and a sprawling plaza. You’ll go in one of the highest tower of the city, but you’ll have to find part of your way yourself as the map is approximate (details and photos under this map).

Highlights: Copley Square, Hancock Tower, Trinity Episcopal Church, Old South Church, the Boston Public library, the Copley Mall, the Prudential Tower, the church of Christ headquarters and plaza, Newbury Street

A: This trek begins at Copley Square; once you have admired the place and/or bought tickets for discounted same day shows at the Boxtix kiosk, enter the oldest part of the Boston Public Library; it’s the one that looks toward the square.

Once inside, a superb marble staircase will face you; it gives you an idea of ​​the place, one of the three largest libraries of the nation.

The building dates from the late 19th century and McKimm, its main architect, combined European influences and technological advances of the time to draw it. Murals by Sargent, De Chavannes and Abbey decorate it. There’s a courtyard looking like an Italian Renaissance cloister. Its largest reading room, Bates Hall, is splendid.

Take an explanatory flyer at the entrance and randomly walk corridors, halls and stairways to discover all the treasures of the place. Some rooms  don’t seem to have changed since their inauguration, although ongoing renovations may threaten them.

The more modern part of the library, on the other side of the courtyard, is the Johnson building. Built in the 1970s in a post-modernist style, it has been renovated and the result is remarkable: colorful, comfortable, spacious. Here you’ll find work rooms, temporary exhibitions, a café and the annex of WGBH, the US public broadcasting station.

B: Your exploration finished, exit where you came from; find the entrance to the Westin Hotel, on your right when you look at the square.

An escalator will take you to the city’s most exclusive shopping mall. It  connects some of the largest hotels in the area. Beware, the map provided above no longer indicates where to go because you are inside; you’ll find maps there to guide you, though.

You’ll also see people of all nationalities and all ages. They are often impeccably dressed, carrying their last purchases in bags with logos of major brands. If only for this sight, the visit is worth it.

If you are hungry, restaurants of all kinds await you too; for an unobstructed view of the city, follow the main hall to the entrance of the Prudential Tower, the second largest tower of the city; take an elevator towards its summit to eat, drink, or just step into the observation deck.

Back in the Mall, turn left towards the Sheraton Hotel, at the end of the lobby; or find a corridor on the left which runs along the large terrace in front of the Prudential Tower. Go through the hotel if you have taken this option, find an escalator on your left. It will lead you to the ground floor with on your right doors leading to the Belvidere St. Otherwise, walk along the corridor and it will also leads you to Belvidere St.

C: Now, you can again find your way on the ma; it tells you to walk a little on Belvidere St. on your left until you see the Christian Science Park on your right. You won’t miss it, it’s an immense plaza with an immense reflecting pool – when it’s in water! There is also a fountain where you can try to run under the jets if you feel playful; it is not always working, though, especially in winter.

In any case, walk along a building made of raw concrete and neo-classical colonnades up to the imposing Scientist Church. The church is actually made up of two buildings from different eras. It houses the largest organ in the world, and you can go see it if you wish. Next to it, the Mapparium, a 3-storeys sphere composed of stained-glass windows. There, light shows recreate the geo-political changes of the world. The adjacent library will tell you more about Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Church.

D: Next, follow Mass Ave. until Newbury St. On your way, you will probably find yourself surrounded by students carrying all kinds of musical instruments; you are next to the Berklee College of Music, one of the most prestigious music schools in the USA, and the New England Conservatory, quite famous too (see the South End trek for more details)

E: Newbury Street is probably the most stylish street in town. Taken from this side, it’s a succession of small fashion stores and café-restaurants with terraces; the more you walk toward Downtown Boston, however, the more these shops give way to haute couture shops, known jewelers and art galleries (see the Back-Bay trek 2 for more details). For now, enjoy the sights and buzz of the street.

F: At #320, on your right, you’ll find the Boston Architectural College. It has  exhibitions of architectural projects open to the public on the ground floor.

Next, find Exeter St. on your right; take a look at the “public alleys” on either side of the street, with their typical black metallic staircases for fire escape. Then turn left onto Boylston St.

G: Your last stop will be for Old South Church, just in front of the Boston Library. It’s an old and charming church where you’ll find calm; with a little luck, someone will play the organ.

If you want to keep walking, you can now follow the Back Bay 2 trek; it will take you toward Boston center before bringing you back to Copley Square.

Good to know: there are public toilets in the library, the Copley Mall, the Scientist Church and the Boston Architectural College. You’ll find innumerable options to eat and sit on your way.

T.stop: Copley Square (beginning and end)

Tips for the scout: they are welcome, see suggestions at the bottom of the page. Thanks in advance for your contribution!

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