The oldest church in Louisiana is one of New Orleans’ best loved landmarks.
Take a breather from the frantic pace of the city in beautiful and spiritual St. Louis Cathedral, standing tall among the historic buildings of the French Quarter. This striking building on Jackson Square with its three gleaming spires and wedding cake facade has become a symbol of New Orleans.
There has been a cathedral on this spot since 1727, although the building you see today dates from in 1850 after a disastrous fire destroyed the original structure. Dedicated to the canonized French King Louis IX, it is the oldest continually active Roman Catholic church in the USA and the oldest place of worship in Louisiana. The story of the devout St. Louis is told in the beautifully preserved stained-glass windows. Among the notable features of the interior, pause to admire the ornately decorated altar and the many works of art that adorn the walls. If you’re lucky, the organ may be playing during your visit, enhancing the special atmosphere of this inspiring building.
Learn more about the history of the cathedral from the self-guided tour brochure available at the entrance for a small donation. There are also occasional informal volunteer-led guided tours. Make a contribution towards the building’s maintenance by purchasing a memento of your visit from the gift shop – it all helps to preserve and protect this historic landmark for future generations.
Before you get swept up in the teeming pace of Jackson Square with its street performers, tarot card readers and artists, take a walk to Royal Street and admire the dramatic marble statue of Jesus Christ standing behind the cathedral with arms outstretched in blessing.
Parking in the centre of New Orleans can be difficult, and although there are on-street spaces and public car parks in the French Quarter they can work out expensive if you’re planning a longer stay. A practical and cost-effective alternative is to use the tram that runs along the riverbank, then explore this fascinating quarter on foot.