The original settlement of New Orleans and the oldest neighborhood in the city is Vieux Carre, better known as the French Quarter or simply The Quarter. Established by the French in 1718, the location continues to be a valuable site for trade due to its strategic position along the Mississippi River.
The district is a National Historic Landmark and is bordered by popular streets, such as Canal Street, Decatur Street, Rampart Street and Esplanade Avenue. The French Quarter boasts a storied history of international influence with cultural contributions from the French, Spanish, Sicilians, Italians, Africans, Irish and others - all evident in the development of this global port settlement.
So much of what makes New Orleans unique is captured in the melting pot atmosphere of the French Quarter, from the boisterous party vibe of Bourbon Street to the bohemian elegance of Royal Street. It's a neighborhood full of entertainment and surprises.
A dominant feature throughout the neighborhood is the stunning architecture. Balconies adorned with intricate ironwork, courtyards filled with lush greenery and beautiful fountains showcase the French Quarter's European roots.
Majority of the architectural design is the handiwork of the Spanish who ruled and rebuilt the city after two overwhelming fires in 1788 and 1794. Many buildings don ceramic plaques informing visitors of the street names during Spanish rule such as Calle de Borbon.
Life in the Quarter centers around New Orleans' most famous landmark, Jackson Square. Originally known as the Place d'Armes, the square was renamed to honor Andrew Jackson, the hero of the Battle of New Orleans. The square is flanked by historic structures such as the St. Louis Cathedral, the Presbytere and Cabildo (which house the Louisiana State Museums) and the Pontalba Apartments (the oldest apartment buildings in the U.S.).
Walk the beautiful gardens inside the square, make a wish as you toss a coin into the fountain and take an iconic New Orleans photograph. The creative culture of the Quarter is embraced by the collection of fortune tellers, artists and musicians who surround Jackson Square. Just across the street is the famed Café du Monde, serving up beignets and café au lait 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Every street in the French Quarter has something to offer from classic restaurants, music venues, boutique shopping to voodoo temples. Some of the most popular areas include: Royal Street, Chartres Street and Bourbon Street but no trip to the Quarter is complete without a trip to the historic French Market for souvenirs.
A variety of guided tours are available covering topics such as haunted, historical, culinary and even cocktail. Many visitors choose to explore the French Quarter using the neighborhood's original mode of transportation, the mule-drawn carriage.
The Quarter's allure draws millions of visitors each year. Come stroll the streets of this exotic neighborhood and experience the mystery, fun and magic.