‘Charleston is a classically Southern city, with long sultry evenings, home style cooking and a whole lot of Southern charm…’
When driving down town, I was struck by how beautiful Charleston was. Fine old colonial style houses, humid temperatures, trees, and the relaxed pace are all elements that have pulled me back to Savannah, Georgia, on numerous occasions and it was so fantastic to find another city that ticked all the boxes.
Aside from the world renowned Southern hospitality, Charleston is also famous for being the location of the start of the Civil War. The conflict started when South Carolina seceded from the Union and attacked a ship in Charleston harbour. Shortly after, they opened fire on the Union controlled Fort Sumter and, so it began.
Charleston is often referred to as the Holy City, which refers to the sheer number of churches and places of worship it had. This includes the beautiful Emanuel African Methodist Church, which is the oldest African Methodist Episcopal church in the South and really is a sight to behold.
Sadly, it was this church that was the target of a white supremacist gunman’s attack in in June of 2015. The gunman, who I won’t name because he doesn’t deserve it, killed 8 black parishioners and their Pastor during an evening Bible study group.
Porgy and Bess & Louis Armstrong
The American opera ‘Porgy and Bess’ was also written by novelist Du Bose, along with composers, George and Ira Gershwin in 1934. It tells the story of Porgy, a disabled African American beggar who falls in love with Bess, a drug addict who has some pretty shady friends.
Charlestonians are fiercely proud of their association with the book ‘Porgy’ and, latterly, with the opera ‘Porgy and Bess’. If you want to walk the set of the book, you can take a walking tour around the city.
Charleston is also the city where jazz trumpeter extraordinaire, Louis Armstrong, first came to the wider public’s attention.
Charleston is crammed with history. Some good, some not so good – pretty much like everywhere else. However, it is great to see so much history remembered and celebrated within the city. As well as the buildings and the people, the mixtures of African, British, French and American influence on the local cuisine is not to be missed. You can’t go far in Charleston without indulging in some seriously good food, which you can experience at the City Market, amongst other places.
The Market is open daily and houses a fantastic range of individual vendors, including fine food and drink, shoes, hats, glass, and jewellery. The market is also opened on a Friday and Saturday evening and the atmosphere is wonderful. If you’d like to experience a true taste of Charleston, you can’t go far wrong with a trip to the City Market.
US Custom House
Nathanial Russell House Museum
Rainbow Row (pictured above) is, as it says, a row of rainbow coloured houses. 13, to be precise, and the longest continuous row of Georgian houses in the US. They are a major tourist attraction and included in pretty much every walking tour in the city. It’s easy to see why, with their colourful facades glinting in the sunlight of the leafy street.
The Charleston Museum is also a wonderful spot for learning about the history of Charleston, the Civil War, the slave trade and the American Revolution, amongst others. The Museum also offers joint entry to two other historic houses, the Heyward-Washington and Joseph Manigault, which both tell stories of more wealthy Charleston families and the slaves that served them.
Charleston, aside from the mass of history it has preserved, is a thoroughly relaxing and welcoming city and I can’t wait to go back and see what else it has to offer.
Have you visited Charleston? What are your favourite sights?