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A Walking Tour Through Charleston, Otherwise Known As The ‘Holy City’


Why is Charleston regularly at the top of the list of travel destinations? Locals and visitors alike know it has to do with the food, the culture, and the character of the city. We have a thriving and upcoming scene of breweries, too. But have you ever wondered and wanted to learn more about the history and unique character of the city?

Our culture, architecture and history is storied, if we do say so ourselves. (Just ask the guides of our walking and culinary tours!) So, today we’ll explore how Charleston got the nickname the ‘Holy City.’ It’s an interesting subject that reveals much about the history that shaped our area.

How did Charleston earn the moniker? We’ll explore three areas.


There’s a very brief story we can tell to explain how Charleston got it’s reputation as a “Holy City.” In the beginning, the city of Charleston was founded at a site on the River Ashley. In 1663, a charter was granted by King Charles II to settle the colony. Nearly from the beginning, in the 1700s, the locals earned a reputation for religious tolerance when many immigrant peoples came to Charleston seeking freedom from religious persecution and were accepted into the area. The character of the city was built as the churches were built over the centuries since that time.

Additionally, visitors are often greeted with a view of the many local churches. The church steeples are a significant part of the skyline, and have been of note to help guide sailors into Charleston Harbor, one of the most important seaports on the East Coast.


Charleston has long been known for historic churches, diversity, and tolerance of all faiths. Early settlers brought Catholicism, Protestantism, and Judaism with them. Over the years, the city also had a strong presence of Calvinism, Anglicans, Quakers, Methodists and Baptists. One of the oldest and largest churches in the city was founded by French Huguenots and Scots Presbyterians in 1680.

One of the oldest (surviving) churches is St. Michael’s Church. Built in the 1750s, it’s a keystone landmark in the city. You can find it at the crossroads of Meeting and Broad Street in the downtown area. It’s also near the Charleston County Courthouse, Charleston City Hall, the federal courthouse, and the U.S. Post Office. (The area is known as the “Four Corners of Law” for this reason.)

If you’re interested in the history and architecture of local churches, we recommend you take a walking tour through the city and also find an African Methodist church built in the early 1800s; synagogues built in the mid 1800s, including the oldest Orthodox synagogue in the south built in 1854; and a Greek Revival style Lutheran church, designed by E.B. White, and founded by a German congregation that held services in German until 1910.

“Divine” Food

Okay, maybe this is our own addition to this list. But the food really is a transcendent experience! Charleston offers world-class cuisine and drinks prepared with thought, creativity and care by experienced artisan chefs, building on the local flavors of the city and the history of cuisine that earned the reputation in the first place. To learn more about it, please be sure to experience a walking tour, mixology tour, brewery tour, or visit to a chef’s kitchen.

Ready to have your own experience in the Holy City? We invite you to visit us online, give us a call, or visit in person to learn more. We’re passionate about Charleston and its culture, and we want to share it with you!

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