A prominent landmark on Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral (officially the Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis King of France) stands tall and proud, beckoning French Quarter visitors to take a little time out from drinking and dancing to admire the oldest continuously used cathedral in the United States. The seat of the city's Roman Catholic Archdiocese, the cathedral was built in 1789 and rebuilt in 1850, and today, its all-white, Spanish Colonial façade with three black spires is one of the most instantly recognizable landmarks in the South. The inside is just as beautiful.
As one of New Orleans' most famous landmarks, St. Louis Cathedral deserves a spot on every visitor's itinerary. Nearly all sightseeing tours in the city include a stop here, whether a basic walking tour or a quirkier supernatural, romantic, or "drunk history" themed tour. Thanks to the cathedral's central location, it's also easy to visit on your own when mass isn't in session; volunteer docents sometimes lead tours, and brochures for self-guided tours are available at the entrance for a small donation.
Things to Know Before You Go
- St. Louis Cathedral is a perfect spontaneous stop on a stroll through the French Quarter.
- Mass takes place daily at 12:05pm.
- The cathedral is wheelchair accessible.
- Expect a full house for mass on Catholic holidays such as Easter and Christmas.
How to Get to St. Louis Cathedral
St. Louis Cathedral is located just across Chartres Street from Jackson Square, so it's easy to get to on foot from just about anywhere in the French Quarter. Parking in the area can be difficult to find, so travelers coming from further afield should consider taking a tour that includes hotel pickup and dropoff, catching a taxi or rideshare, or riding a streetcar to Jackson Square on the Riverfront Line.
When to Get There
While the cathedral is open daily, it closes in mid-afternoon, so it’s best to plan your visit for earlier in the day, either before or after midday mass. Those planning to attend mass on a significant holiday, such as Easter or Christmas, should try to arrive well before the service starts, as seats often fill up quickly.
Visiting the Old Ursuline Convent
Travelers planning a visit to St. Louis Cathedral should also set aside some time for a stop at the nearby Old Ursuline Convent, also located on Chartres Street in the French Quarter. The oldest building in the Mississippi Valley, the convent was built in the 1750s and today houses a museum within its French Colonial facade.