Charleston SC Churches
and why it's known as the Holy City
Holy City” – Charleston has long been nicknamed the Holy City for
its concentration of historic churches and denominations. This
dates to unique guarantees of religious freedom written into the
original colony’s constitution back in 1670 by the great English
philosopher John Locke. As a result, many oppressed beliefs found
safe haven in Charleston, and the city became a melting pot for
the Congregationalist, Unitarian, Quaker, Baptist, Catholic, Jew,
Presbyterian, Anglican, African Methodist-Episcopal, and Lutheran. Learn more about Charleston's famous gardens, churches, architecture, interiors.
With towering spires etched in the peninsular skyline and grand
columned porticos presiding over Charleston neighborhoods, their
places of worship would become the very image of the city itself,
and it’s ironic that the oldest steeple, St. Michael’s, would be
the focal point for Federal gunners sighting in on the city during
the Civil War.
Today, Charleston still features the only French Anglican church
in North America - a magnificent 1845 Gothic Revival structure
on, understandably, Church Street, just a few blocks away from the
Greek Revival building that has served since 1822 as the South’s
oldest Baptist Church.
There’s also the hemisphere’s oldest Jewish synagogue in
continuous use – an 1841 Classic Revival masterpiece Kahal Kadosh
Beth Elohim on Hasell Street just across from the mother church of
Catholicism in the Carolinas and Georgia – Tuscan-porticoed St.
Mary’s, built in 1839.
Many of the city’s steeples are genuine bell towers and ring
each day, but none is more famous than St. Michael’s, whose bells
date to 1764 and peal with the traditional hand-on-rope style of
Have a few more minutes? Learn about Charleston's famous gardens, architecture, interiors of
Charleston's finest homes, watch a video on downtown
Charleston or take self guided walking tour of Charming