This is the best city in the United States for a cultural trip in 2023

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As usual, National Geographic released its “Best of the World” lists ahead of the coming year. Selection of the top 5 destinations for cultural immersion in 2023, the post included a South Carolina city alongside European and African giantsin a surprising movement it might have Old World enthusiasts wondering why he featured at all.

Charleston, South Carolina, USA

We all know that Europe, Africa and Asia tend to dominate cultural rankings because of their timeless charm, cities that feel like openair museums, and multitudes of classical monuments. The newborn United States, and most of its neighbors, all less than three or four centuries old, generally pale in comparison to Italy, Egypt and China on this front.

This is changing, because “too modern” America is finally recognized for his contribution to culture – and a free worldto a measure.

A city known for its dark but fascinating past

Aerial view of downtown Charleston, South Carolina, USA

The United States may not have a Colosseum, limestone pyramids rising from desert sands, or a two-thousand-year-old defensive wall stretching for miles defining its ancient borders, but this is home to a long list of vibrant cities which are centers for the arts and which are on the bucket list of millions of travellers.

You certainly won’t find castles or old medieval towns here, but like National Geographic deductedthere is one American city on a par with the Eastern Hemisphere in historical relevance: the small, charming and monument-rich town of Charleston, South Carolinaestablished in 1670 as a European colony.

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Charleston Market Museum, Charleston, South Carolina

Named after a British king, Charles II, and originally populated by a majority of British and Irish settlers, Charleston quickly established itself as a key port for the transatlantic slave trade. Like Eastern Europe, which was the scene of human disasters during World War II, Charleston has a dark but fascinating past.

According to historians, almost half of all people enslaved who were forcibly brought to today’s United States from the African continent arrived at the port of Charleston. Naturally, it prospered as one of the greatest American cities of its time, monopolizing the slave trade and becoming an affluent colony.

Some of America’s finest colonial architecture

Horse drawn carriage, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

In addition to its complex history, for which it apologized back in 2018Charleston is known to be America’s finest example of a well-preserved city. colonial center. The municipality has a huge 2,500 historic buildings in different architectural stylesthe most popular being Colonial, Federal, Victorian and Neo-Classical.

Its downtown area, officially called Charleston’s Historic District, marks the old city limits on a peninsula at the confluence of two rivers, and it looks almost ripped from the pages of a history book. The entire district is classified by the U.S. government as a National Historic Landmarkmainly due to its extensive collection of 18th and 19th century houses.

Colonial architecture in Charleston, South Carolina, USA

One of the main points of interest of the historical peninsula are the famous Charleston “detached houses”described as narrow residences with long porches surrounding the outer structure, almost like ‘outdoor corridors‘. In other areas, such as Ansonborough, there are houses built in the Greek Revival style, as well as Art Deco and Gothic Revival.

World-class museums to keep history buffs busy for days

Skyline of Charleston, South Carolina, USA at night

Considering it to be a major cultural hub in the United States, South Carolina’s largest metropolitan area has several museums that pay homage to its heritage:

  • The Charleston Museumrecounting the city’s colonial past into the contemporary era;
  • The Gibbes Art Museumwhere are iconic masterpieces, such as Charles Fraser James Reid Pringle;
  • old slave marketa pre-war slave auction gallery now turned into a museum dedicated to Charleston’s role in slavery;
  • The Hall Museumhoused in a Greek Revival building dating back to 1841 and evoking the Civil War, and many more.
Charleston City Market, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

National Geographic specifically mentions a new attraction that opens on January 21, the African American International Museum, symbolically opposite the port of Charleston, where 100,000 enslaved Africans would have arrived. Here, visitors will be able to wander through nine galleries displaying “heartbreaking tales” of plantation life.

Additionally, the museum has a section devoted to the “enduring cultural contributions” that enslaved Africans made to South Carolina, particularly the Gullah Geechee, a protected ethnic minority who now live in both the Carolinas and Florida. Besides the future landmark, the magazine also mentions Charleston’s’pedestrian urban planning‘ and ‘Cuisine du Bas Pays’.

Charleston, South Carolina, USA

Other destinations mentioned are the Appian Way, the ancient Roman road crossing the Italian peninsula to Rome, dotted with historical ruins, Busan in South Korea, a seaside metropolis where prestigious film and music festivals are held each year. art, Egypt, which will see the beginnings of Tutankhamun’s new home and the intriguing Longmen Grottoes in China.

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James C. Tibbs