Our City

Discover Charleston’s valued history that helped forge its unique present.

In April 1670, the British ship Carolina, accompanied by a single-sailed sloop, passed through what is today Charleston Harbor, slipped quietly into the mouth of the present-day Ashley River and dropped anchor five miles inland along its western shoreline. Of the hundreds of people who embarked on this incredible journey, only 148 made it ashore to establish “Charles Towne,” the first permanent European settlement in the Carolinas.


While most visitors may know that Charleston is referred to as the Holy City due to its numerous churches and vast array of religious denominations, many do not know how or why this came to be. In 1665, eight ords Proprietors promised prospective settlers large land grants, religious freedom and the right to set their own laws. Thus came a wave of faithful migrants all seeking the freedom to worship as they pleased. Today, Charleston boasts over 400 places of worship, a fact Charlestonians are so proud of that any new construction cannot be built higher than the highest church steeple, ensuring churches are the most prominent structures in the downtown skyline.


Charleston and its peoples have played pivotal roles in America’s most important wars. During the Revolutionary War, 14,000 British troops and 90 ships began a siege on Charleston. Cut off from relief and with no hope of aid, Major General Benjamin Lincoln was forced to surrender the town — the largest American surrender of the war.

Nearly a century later, as America teetered on the edge of civil war, South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union. On January 9, 1861, the first shots of the Civil War were fired from Fort Sumter as the Union ship Star of the West entered Charleston Harbor. As the war dragged on, Charleston’s streets and buildings were bombarded with fires, shellfire and destruction, eventually falling to the Union in 1865.
As the phoenix rises from the ashes, Charleston was rebuilt and reborn as the beloved Southern town we know today: a place where the present mingles easily with the Old World charm and cultural sophistication of a bygone era, a modern metropolis draped in the rich and aesthetically pleasing cloak of yesteryear.

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