Excerpts from the book, Louisiana’s Sacred Places: Cemeteries, Churches and Voodoo

Sitting under the shadows of the downtown high-rises, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is testament to the title, City of the Dead. Narrow pathways of broken cement form busy intersections with blind spots at every turn. The tall crypts dwarf your sense of direction, and soon you’re lost inside a supernatural world of history and intrigue.

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From pioneering heroes to political icons, the spirits still beckon the living in sold-out cemetery tours; it is here you will meet the people who built New Orleans. Just a block away from the French Quarter, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 has witnessed both social and architectural wonder. The cemetery not only offers a snapshot of fashionable 19th century architecture, but a glimpse into the people who lived there, each with its own décor, emotion and story.

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French Creole bon vivant, Bernard de Marigny, born of a noble French family, inherited his father’s vast plantation just outside the New Orleans Vieux Carre, known as Faubourg Marigny. Marigny subdivided the plantation in small parcels to support his flamboyant lifestyle. He is also known for bringing the game of craps to America.

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Evidence of his ever-growing abode can be found in the neigh- borhood of the same name, Faubourg Marigny, and his naming of main thoroughfares such as Frenchman and Elysian Fields. His body lies in a white-plastered, raised-vault tomb. The Pedimont design is tall but narrow with a triangular pediment, much like the roof of a house. It is there you will find Marigny’s fading epithet, and on the façade is a marble stone stamped with a list of souls interred.

There are many cemetery tour groups that can be found on the New Orleans tourism website.

For a complete list of tours, visit the New Orleans tourism site

Save Our Cemeteries offers tours led by volunteer guides with 90% of ticket prices dedicated to cemetery restoration, education and advocacy.

St Louis Cemetery No. 1: Open only to tours, 425 Basin Street, Archdiocese of New Orleans features info about the cemeteries they manage