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South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina - A Holy City

Charleston, South Carolina is an east coast city known for its warm weather, unique antebellum architecture and also for its churches. In fact, Charleston, South Carolina is commonly referred to as “the Holy City.” Charleston is filled with churches as its skyline is scattered with many, many church steeples. During the colonial phase in U.S. history in the 1600 and 1700s, colonists from Europe were coming to America and settling. These European colonists were followed by colonists around the world flocking to the U.S. in search for land, new opportunities and the freedom to practice their faith. Charleston quickly became a place of religious tolerance. This allowed people to practice their own faiths without fear of persecution. Because of this, many churches grew and flourished in the city of Charleston through the years.

With the passing of the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina in the 1600s during the founding of the colony of the Carolinas, colonists were granted the most religious freedom out of any of the other colonies. Charleston became a colorful mix of Catholicism, Protestantism and Judaism. Quakers, Calvinists and Anglicans alike were settling, calling Charleston home and establishing congregations of like-minded people to live together and worship.

While there are many churches, some congregations and churches are particularly historic, dating back near to the founding of the Carolinas. St. Philip’s Episcopal Church is one of the most renowned churches in Charleston, dating back to 1838. The Circular Congregational Church is also iconic, with the congregation dating back to 1681. The building is located today exactly where it was hundreds of years ago, making this the longest running congregation in the South and is very close to the original set up.

The churches in Charleston truly capture the unique history of the city. Charleston is a symbol of religious freedom and tolerance that have welcomed many through the years. Today, there are over 400 churches within the limits of Charleston, serving as a reminder of the city’s rich history of religious freedom and continuing on with that tradition today. Next time you visit Charleston, make a note of how many steeples you see. Perhaps, there will be too many to count!

For more iconic churches that are must-sees during your trip to Charleston, click here.


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