Hallowed Ground: 7 Reasons Charleston Is Known as the Holy City

By:Page Ivey

Date:8/27/2014

If you are lucky enough to get to see Charleston from the water, you will understand why it is called the Holy City. Church steeples dot the skyline and offer a visual glimpse into the past, when Charleston was known for is religious diversity and tolerance. Here is a sampling of historic places of worship that should not be missed.

St. Philip’s Episcopal Church is probably the most recognizable church in Charleston. The building was completed in 1838. In its churchyard are the graves of Vice President John C. Calhoun, signer of the Declaration of Independence Edward Rutledge and Dubose Heyward, author of “Porgy” — on which the Gershwin opera “Porgy and Bess” was based.

Circular Congregation Church was organized in 1681 and in 1806 began meeting in a Robert Mills-designed circular building that gave the congregation its unique name. The building was destroyed by fire in 1861 and damaged by the 1886 earthquake. The present building opened in 1891.

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was made up of freedmen and slaves when it started in 1791. In the 1820s, Denmark Vessey plotted a slave rebellion in the church, and it was closed. The congregation was reorganized at the end of the Civil War, and the current building was built in 1891.

Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim is the second-oldest synagogue in the US and the birthplace of American Reform Judaism in 1824. The original structure was destroyed by fire in 1838. The current building was completed in 1840.

First Baptist Church lays claim to being the oldest Baptist church in the South. Founded in 1682, the congregation moved into its Robert Mills-designed building in 1822.

St. John’s Lutheran Church was founded by German immigrants in 1742 and is the mother church for all South Carolina Lutherans. The present building was completed in 1817.

The French Protestant (Huguenot) Church was completed in 1845, but its congregation goes back to 1687 when French Protestants fled persecution at home.

Related Content

Hallowed Ground: Circular Congregational Church, Charleston
People have gathered to worship at Charleston’s Circular Congregational Church for more than 300 years. The church’s congregation has a history as interesting as its round exterior.
Hallowed Ground: First Baptist Church, Columbia
Columbia’s First Baptist Church isn’t just a place of worship. It’s also where lawmakers voted for South Carolina to leave the Union before the Civil War began.

Featured Products

St. Philip's Episcopal Church
Coast

Charleston

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
Established in 1670, this "mother church" of the Province originally stood on the site where St. Michael's stands today. The present building (c. 1835-1838) saw its bells ...
Emanuel AME Church
Coast

Charleston

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
This brick Gothic Revival-style church with its tall steeple replaced an earlier 1872 church badly damaged by the 1886 earthquake. Built in 1891, it retains its original ...
Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Reform Temple
Coast

Charleston

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
From our beginnings in 1749, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (KKBE) has been at the spiritual heart of Jewish Charleston. Our present synagogue, built in 1840, is considered one ...
St. John's Lutheran Church
Coast

Charleston

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
St. John's Lutheran Church, established in 1742, is the "mother church" of Lutheranism in South Carolina. Located in Charleston's Historic District, the present church e ...
French Huguenot Church
Coast

Charleston

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
The French Protestant Church of Charleston was founded in approximately 1681 by Huguenot refugees from the Protestant persecutions in France. About 450 Huguenots had sett ...

Featured products and attractions in "Hallowed Ground: 7 Reasons Charleston Is Known as the Holy City"

Nearby Attractions

  • {{item.name}}

You might also like:

The Parish Church of St. Helena
Coast

Beaufort

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
The parish was founded in 1712, but the original church was not completed until 1724, construction being interrupted due to the Yemassee War. Following the Union occupati ...
Old Stone Church
Mountains

Clemson

Mountains

Mountains

The
Mountains Region

Learn More
Revolutionary War hero Gen. Andrew Pickens and others built this Presbyterian church in 1797. The sanctuary was damaged by fire and is no longer in use, but stands watch ...
Mepkin Abbey
Coast

Moncks Corner

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
An active Trappist monastery that welcomes both men and women retreatants. Daily visitors are welcome. The former plantation home of Henry Laurens, Congressional Constitu ...
First Baptist Church
Midlands

Columbia

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
The original church, built in 1811, was located at the corner of Sumter and Hampton Streets and was replaced by a second church in 1859. On December 17, 1860, delegates o ...
Fall Tours of Homes and Gardens
Coast

Charleston

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
Friends of The Preservation Society of Charleston graciously welcome visitors inside the interiors of Charleston’s most historic private homes during the 40th Fall Tour o ...
Church Of The Holy Apostles
Midlands

Barnwell

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
Built in 1856 of pine in the typical Gothic style of the English Parish Church, tradition states this Episcopal sanctuary was used as a stable for Union horses by Gen. Ki ...