Top Religious Sites Walking Tour, New Orleans

Top Religious Sites Walking Tour (Self Guided), New Orleans

New Orleans has some of the oldest and most beautiful churches in Louisiana. Some of them, like the St. Louis Cathedral, have become iconic symbols of the city, while others are considered to provide "fresh air" to the busy business quarters.

The churches on this walking tour combine different architectural styles, starting with the Spanish Colonial & French Neo-Gothic design of the famed Cathedral overlooking Jackson Square. Interestingly enough, its adjacent cemetery is known as the burial place of Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau, whose tomb attracts hundreds of pilgrims every year.

The evidence of 17th/18th-century New Orleans is still evident here, as seen in the Neoclassical-style Old Ursuline Convent, which actually goes way back to the early 1700s and looks like something torn out of Louis XIV's Paris. Another great old church, Our Lady of Guadalupe is classic mission-style Spanish with wonderful windows and a nice mosaic of the Virgin up front, not to be missed.

The Immaculate Conception Church – a Jesuit parish – may seem overlooked compared to the area of the city it shares its space with, but the red brick exterior helps it to stand out with the towering buildings in the vicinity. Peaceful and very traditional, a visit here is also highly recommended.

Neglecting such treasures is like leaving New Orleans without having beignets, so take our self-guided tour to catch a glimpse of some exquisite places of worship.
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Top Religious Sites Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Top Religious Sites Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » New Orleans (See other walking tours in New Orleans)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.0 Km or 2.5 Miles
Author: ann
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • St. Louis Cathedral
  • Old Ursuline Convent
  • St Augustine Catholic Church
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe Church
  • Immaculate Conception Church
  • St Patrick's Church
St. Louis Cathedral

1) St. Louis Cathedral (must see)

Most tourists recognize the St. Louis Cathedral's triple spires as the main symbol of the French Quarter. Many have taken photos of the gleaming white facade against a clear blue sky from across picturesque Jackson Square. Relatively few, though, have stepped inside the cathedral to view its beautiful interior. The stained glass windows depict the saintly life of France's King Louis IX, and the glorious murals and statuary beckon the visitor back nearly 300 years to its founding.

The St. Louis Cathedral is the oldest continuously active Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States, built in 1727 and dedicated to King Louis IX of France. The original structure was burned during the great fire of 1794. The current building was completed in the 1850s.

The influences of the Spanish and the French are easily recognized in both the artwork of the church and also the flags displayed near the chandeliers in the main aisle of the sanctuary. The church was designated as a minor basilica by Pope Paul VI in 1964. Pope John Paul II visited the cathedral in September 1987, and after the visit, the square in front of the church was renamed in the pope's honor.

The interior is open for self-guided tours when masses and other church functions are not going on. The fine pipe organ is frequently played for the enjoyment of visitors, and there is also a small gift shop.

Note the sloping floor; Clever architectural design, somehow, keeps the building upright even as its ground continues to sink.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8:30 am-4 pm; Mass: 12:05 pm
Old Ursuline Convent

2) Old Ursuline Convent

By some accounts, the Ursuline Convent is the oldest structure in the Mississippi River Valley. Built in the 1750s, declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960, and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966, it served as a residence of the archdiocese, but also as a school, orphanage, and make-shift hospital.

The building, located at 1100 Chartres Street, is considered the finest surviving example of French colonial public architecture in the US. Built of stucco-covered brick, typical for French Neoclassicism, it is a formal, symmetrical building designed with a lack of ornamentation, but worth a self-guided tour (there are officially no guided tours, but the lady who works here is an amazing source of knowledge and interlocutor if you need her).

Exhibits are well-designed and give insight to the history of the city as well as of the Convent, plus one gets a chance to see the former bishop's chapel in the nearby church (not open otherwise to the public) with its stunning stained glass windows, Stations of the Cross, and statuary. Another beautiful feature is the cypress hand-carved staircase.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 10am–4pm (last admission: 3:15pm); Sat: 9am–3pm (last admission: 2:15pm)
St Augustine Catholic Church

3) St Augustine Catholic Church

St. Augustine Catholic Church is the oldest African-American Catholic parish in the nation. It is located on Saint Claude Avenue near the French Quarter on the site of the old Claude Tremé plantation. The church is the location of the annual Jazz Mass that is held in conjunction with the Satchmo Festival, which pays homage to Louis Armstrong.

The place of worship was founded in 1841 and dedicated in 1842. Architect J.N.B. de Pauilly designed the church. The property was donated by Ursuline Sisters on the condition that the church be named after Saint Augustine of Hippo.

What makes the church special is that it was built by Free Persons of Color. Famous parishioners include Homer Plessy, Sidney Bechet, A.P. Tureaud, and Allison ‘Tootie’ Montana. One interesting note is that a war of the pews began when white people heard about the free people of color buying pews for slaves. The free people of color eventually won by buying three pews to every one pew a white person bought.

St. Augustine’s almost faced closure after Hurricane Katrina due to extensive property losses in the city. This was a shock to the parishioners since the church escaped major damage. In addition, the parish was also providing support to those affected by the hurricane. The locals rallied and barricaded themselves in the building. This response caused the archdiocese to reverse its decision.

In 2008, the church received a $75,000 grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and American Express to do much needed renovations. Mass is at 10 am on Sunday.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Church

4) Our Lady of Guadalupe Church

Located on the corner of North Rampart Street, the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church is the oldest house of worship in New Orleans. Originally named the Mortuary Chapel of St. Anthony of Padua, the place of worship was built in 1826 to serve as a burial church for the victims of yellow fever. The current name of the church was received in 1918. Architects Gurlie and Guillot built the church. It is staffed by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

The church was a place of worship for the Italian community in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although it fell into disuse in the 1860s, 1870s, and 1915, the church rebounded each time and returned to service. The church serves as the International Shrine for St. Jude, one of the 12 apostles. In addition, there is a statue of St. Expedite near the entrance who the locals claim can cure procrastination.

The church is known for hosting "jazz" masses. If you have not been to a "jazz" mass before, it is well worth checking it out when you are in New Orleans next time.

Mass is at 7:30 am, 9:30 am, 11:30 am, 1:30 pm (Spanish) and 6 pm on Sundays, at 7 am, 12 pm during the week, and at 7 am on Saturday. The Saturday Vigil is at 4 pm.
Immaculate Conception Church

5) Immaculate Conception Church

Immaculate Conception church, locally known as Jesuit church, is a Roman Catholic church in the Central Business District of New Orleans. The original church was built on this site in 1857. Immaculate Conception church was built and designed in the Neo-Venetian Gothic style of Gothic Revival architecture, with Moorish Revival and Byzantine Revival elements.

Two Immaculate Conception churches, nearly identical to each other, were built on the same site over time. The first church was designed by Fr. John Cambiaso, S.J., and completed in 1857. In the late 1920s, it suffered foundation damage due to the construction of the Pere Marquette building. The church's floor split in half. The building was disassembled in 1928. New footings at the same site were laid in 1929 with the cornerstone laid on 16 May 1929. The new church building, incorporating many fixtures from the older church, was dedicated on 2 March 1930.

Somewhat hidden among the surrounding high rises, the church is well worth a visit for its amazing stained glass and stunning interior. The statues, frescoes, and altars are simply beautiful.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
St Patrick's Church

6) St Patrick's Church

St. Patrick’s Church is located in the Central Business District on Camp Street. It was founded in 1833 and completed in 1840. The church was built to address the worshiping needs of the Irish community who could not understand the services conducted in French in the Creole churches. It is the second oldest parish in New Orleans and a church that is most respected.

The building was designed by Irish architects James and Charles Dakin and features Gothic style architecture, a 185 foot tower, a 40 foot vestibule, and an 85 foot nave. The interior design of the church was designed by James Gallier Sr. The church altar features beautiful murals designed by the artist Leon Pomarede. One mural depicts the Transfiguration, the other Christ walking on water, and the last shows St. Patrick baptizing King Laoghaire of Ireland’s daughters.

Although it received a major renovation from 1978 to 1990, it is one of the few buildings whose design hasn’t changed significantly since its inception. The church is also one of the few buildings that did not suffer any major damage from Hurricane Katrina. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1975.

Weekday masses are from 11:30 am to 12 pm Monday through Friday. Sunday mass is at 8 am, 9:30 am, 11 am, and 5:30 pm. The Eucharistic Adoration is from 11 am to 1 pm Monday through Friday. The Benediction is from 11 am to 1 pm Monday through Friday.

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