New Orleans isn’t quite like any other American city, and a step into one of our above-ground Cities of the Dead provides an instant reminder. St. Louis Cemetery #1, founded in 1789 and still functioning today, is the oldest of them, the resting place of famous New Orleanians of all kinds, and a must-see on any trip to our city.
Meeting in the French Quarter, this tour will take you on a short walk by the oldest church building in New Orleans, to the cemetery, where we’ll discuss the lives of the cemetery’s inhabitants, our colorful and musical funeral traditions, and the strange means by which a small tomb can contain dozens of people.
Possible highlights of the tour include:
- The famous Voodoo priestess, Marie Laveau
- Homer Plessy, the father of the American civil rights movement
- Myra Clark Gaines, who brought the longest civil court case in US history
- Benjamin Latrobe, the father of American architecture
- Massive and elaborate tombs for French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian benevolent societies
- Where the makers of the 1969 film Easy Rider got filmmaking banned in the cemetery forever
- A tomb fenced with cannons, honoring the New Orleans Battalion of Artillery
- Bernard de Marigny, ultimate New Orleans playboy and former owner of the Marigny neighborhood
- Paul Morphy, the greatest chess player of the 19th century
- A tomb just for musicians
- “Oven vaults” built into the cemetery walls
- Etienne de Boré, who turned Louisiana into the sugar capitol of the United States
- A separate burial ground for Protestants
- The presumed eventual resting place of Nicolas Cage
Note: Because of a sudden recent increase in vandalism, the Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans, which owns and cares for St. Louis Cemetery #1, has closed the cemetery to the general public. Access is only available through city-licensed, Archdiocese-approved tour guides such as ours.
This tour is offered Thursday through Monday at 11:00am and lasts approximately 90 minutes. Reservations are required for all public tours and can be made online.