It wasn’t until 6 years after Hurricane Katrina that I first set eyes on New Orleans, so I have no pre-existing condition against which to compare her current state. I can, however, tell you that today the city is alive, beautiful, and bursting at the seams with things to see and do.
One interesting thing to do in New Orleans – and a great way to learn a little more about the 300 year old city’s history – is to take a guided tour of one of their legendary cemeteries.
St Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the city’s oldest cemetery and is a short block from the heart of the French Quarter. Although there is no admission to get in (it is a cemetery after all), it is highly recommended that you visit with a guide. A guide will not only help you to get a better understanding of what you’re looking at, but you’re also less likely to get mugged or lost inside the cemetery if you’re with a licensed tour guide.
The above ground tombs meant to protect bodies from New Orlean’s high water table create a stone-walled labyrinth. Many of the crypts in these “Cities of the Dead” are too tall to see over, and too closely packed together to easily see around. A tour guide, however, will be familiar enough with the individual grave sites to keep you moving.
Is a cemetery tour appropriate for kids?
A visit during the day is not scary and can be a very educational for people of all ages. As you visit the graves of notable past citizens, you’ll learn about voodoo, segregation, Louisiana politics, and of course burial traditions.
While you shouldn’t be concerned for your safety during a guided tour, you should be aware that a cemetery in New Orleans can get very hot during the day. Wear a hat and sunscreen and bring water.
There are several companies offering cemetery walking tours in and around the French Quarter. New Orleans Spirit Tours provides multiple tour types, including a combination cemetery and voodoo tour that includes a short trip to a nearby Voodoo Spiritual Temple.
If you’re looking for a great place to take photos in New Orleans, you can’t beat one of these ancient cemeteries!
I received a complimentary tour from New Orleans Spirit Tours as a guest of the New Orleans CVB.
All photos by Britt Reints