New Orleans: thrilling but inspiring history and culture

Wednesday, 15 September 2021
The Vieux Carré, today's French Quarter. The Vieux Carré, today's French Quarter.

Its history and culture make New Orleans far more interesting to visit than any other city in America. With its countless cultural riches, this city that stretches along the Mississippi river in the Southeastern region of the U.S. State of Louisiana has been given several nicknames such as NOLA, the Big Easy, the Crescent City, the Hollywood South, and the Paris of the South, and has become a major tourist destination in both Louisiana and America.

From a former French colony to a cosmopolitan city.

The history of New Orleans remains immensely fascinating. The city amazes not only foreigners, but also residents, who still enjoy the charming place filled with enchanting history and built with a complex culture. As New Orleans abounds in resources and is served by a great navigable network, it attracted more European people to come and live in.

While Louisiana was under Spanish control ceded by France to keep it out of the hands of the British, New Orleans was claimed for the French crown by explorer Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle in 1682 and was founded by Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville in 1718. As years went by, under the influence of Spain and France – as trading and cultural partners – the Big Easy underwent huge transformation both in infrastructure and culture. The Vieux Carré, today’s French Quarter, often called the Crown Jewel of New Orleans thanks to its French and Spanish Creole architecture, is one of the most well-known sites built at that time.

Although the entire Louisiana colony was sold as part of the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, NOLA’s residents kept the culture and customs of its colonists alive. The footprints of the French culture are well felt within the city’s cosmopolitan society.

From the birthplace of Jazz to the city of witches.

New Orleans is well-known for its people from various backgrounds and origins. The Creoles – locally born descendants of early inhabitants, many with French blood – make the fame of the city, especially when it comes to the “Creole cooking or cuisine” or “Creole architecture”. We mainly owe today’s remarkable cultural and historic heritage to those Creole New Orleanians.

It was when arts and performance flourished that Jazz emerged too and baptized the city of the New Orleans the birthplace of Jazz. The rise of jazz as revolutionary music is acknowledged as the greatest cultural contribution of New Orleans to the world. The jazz age saw the rise of talented artists and musicians like Louis Armstrong as well as various festivals like the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and carnivals such as the notable Mardi Gras.

Apart from jazz, New Orleans is also known as the city of witchcraft and voodoo. Voodoo is told to have landed in Louisiana during the colonial period when enslaved African people brought their culture and beliefs to the Crescent city. Marie Laveau, for example, got famous for being the Vodoo Queen of New Orleans. Later, New Orleans has been referred to as the “Hollywood South” since the city has become an important site for the film industry and a major hub in the film production world.

Sources: New Orleans / Experience New Orleans.

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