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St. Louis Cemetery No. 1

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

425 Basin St, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA

Opening Hours

9:00 AM - 3:45 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

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expert
Colm
Local tour guide
"Make sure to visit the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 around 9:00 AM to avoid the larger tour groups and experience a more serene atmosphere. Also, local lore often misses the guidebooks, so ask your tour guide about lesser-known stories, like the legend of the 'Casket Girls' to truly delve into the city's mysterious past."

What is Cemetery Tours (e.g., St. Louis Cemetery No. 1)?

In the heart of New Orleans, Cemetery Tours refer to the visits that guests and locals alike take through the city's historic cemeteries. St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, in particular, is one of the most famous. It's a labyrinth of tombstones, mausoleums, and crypts that date back to the 18th century. Unlike many conventional cemeteries, New Orleans' cemeteries are home to above-ground vaults, a necessity due to the below sea-level elevation and high water table of the city.

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St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the final resting place for many notable individuals, and its unique architecture and burial practices have intrigued visitors for years. Tours are often led by knowledgeable guides who can unearth the stories behind the tombs, the reasons for above-ground burials, and the cemetery's place in the fabric of New Orleans' history.

History of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the oldest extant cemetery in New Orleans, having opened in 1789, replacing the older St. Peter Cemetery as the main burial ground when the city was reorganized after a devastating fire. As the city's oldest cemetery, it mirrors the rich history and cultural diversity of New Orleans itself. The evolution of its burial practices, iconic above-ground vaults, and the use of family tombs reflect both French and Spanish rule that presided over the city's development.

Over the centuries, certain rituals and traditions formulated around All Saints' Day and other local customs, deepening the cultural significance of the cemetery. Illegal grave openings and vandalism have led to restricted access, with tours now being the primary way for the public to experience this historic site safely and respectfully.

Why is St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 Important?

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 stands as an important piece of New Orleans' heritage. The city's eclectic blend of cultures—French, Spanish, African, and more—is reflected in the intricate designs and names on each tomb. Apart from the architectural significance, the cemetery is an open book to the city's storied past, telling tales of yellow fever victims, renowned jazz musicians, and legendary figures of New Orleans Voodoo.

One of the cemetery's most visited tombs is that of Marie Laveau, known as the 'Voodoo Queen.' This site attracts hundreds of visitors, who leave offerings and mark three X's in hopes of having their wishes granted. Additionally, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, further cementing its importance and ensuring its preservation for future generations.

Things to Do & See at St. Louis Cemetery No. 1

Exploring this timeless expanse is a unique experience into the past. When you visit St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, you can admire the variety of 19th-century tomb styles ranging from elaborate mausoleums to humbler wall vaults—or 'oven vaults.' The craftsmanship of the tombs is truly a sight to see, with many being preserved and restored by local preservation societies.

Guided tours are arguably the best way to visit, as you'll get detailed insights into the lives of the people buried there and the symbols engraved on their resting places. As you walk through, your guide might point out the tombs of other famous individuals like Homer Plessy, whose case against racial segregation led to the landmark Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision. And don't forget the mysterious 'future tomb' of actor Nicolas Cage, a pyramid that stands out amongst the ancient mausoleums.

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  • Look closely at the ornate ironwork and stonemasonry that embellish the tombs.
  • Pay respects to the jazz musicians and local personalities that have shaped New Orleans culture.
  • Experience the unique cultural practices that still occur here, such as the marking of Marie Laveau's tomb or the leaving of trinkets and tokens for the departed.

Frequently asked questions

What are Cemetery Tours in New Orleans?

Cemetery Tours in New Orleans refer to guided visits of the city's historic cemeteries, such as the renowned St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, where visitors can explore the unique above-ground tombs and learn about the city's burial customs and history.

Why are burials in New Orleans conducted above ground?

Burials in New Orleans are often conducted above ground due to the city's high water table, which makes traditional underground burials impractical. The above-ground tombs help prevent water from disturbing the gravesites.

Can I visit St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 without a tour guide?

No, visitors to St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 must be accompanied by a licensed tour guide as per the rules set by the Archdiocese of New Orleans to preserve the site and respect the resting places.

What notable figures are buried at St. Louis Cemetery No. 1?

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the final resting place of several notable figures, including Marie Laveau, the legendary Voodoo priestess, and Bernard de Marigny, the influential politician and playboy of early New Orleans.

How long do the Cemetery Tours in New Orleans usually last?

Cemetery Tours in New Orleans typically last about 1 to 2 hours, during which participants explore various tombs, hear stories of the deceased and learn about the history and culture of New Orleans.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

425 Basin St, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA

Opening Hours

9:00 AM - 3:45 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

Find it on google maps