Savanna, Georgia is probably one of the most charming cities in the South, indeed in the nation. Boasting the largest Historic National District in the country, it was a must see for The Inspector and me. So shortly after returning from Gatlinburg with our daughter we headed off on our own for a few days to celebrate our wedding anniversary.
With only two nights planned in the city we tried to make the most of the time we had. Our accommodations were perfectly located just steps from the River Walk which is where we spent our first evening.
River Street was paved with a combination of bricks and cobblestones. We learned that the stone streets were paved with the ballast rocks from the bottom of the ships that sailed into the harbor. The stones would often need to be changed for fresh ones and so the old stones were just dumped on the shore. Something had to be done with them. Turning them into an inexpensive material to be used for roads was a great solution. However, cobblestones made for a pretty bumpy surface and so bricks would be laid in some areas to make it easier for the the horse and carriages.
As the sun set each evening the scene was filled with the sights and sounds of sidewalk dining outside restaurants, lighted fountains and sidewalk musicians as people strolled along the river walk.
The following morning we picked up a narrated trolley which would take us through the historic quarter of the city. Our first stop was the Cathedral and Basilica of St. John the Baptist. It seems that when the British colony of Georgia (named after King George II) was founded in 1733 part of it's role was to act as a buffer between the aggressive Spanish colonies to the south and the other British colonies to the north. To that end, all Catholics were banned from the colony including Savannah. There was a fear that in the event of conflict the Roman Catholics might side with the Spanish rather than the English. This sentiment did not begin to change until after the American Revolution when many Catholic soldiers distinguished themselves in battle alongside their fellow patriots.
As the Catholics began to establish themselves into the congregation of St. John the Baptist, their first church was built in 18ll. A number of church buildings came after. Then in 1870 plans were made to build a new cathedral. It was dedicated in 1876 and stood until a great fire burned much of the building in 1898. Only a few walls and the spires remained. But the congregation was undaunted and two years later the cathedral had been rebuilt and repaired. It was rededicated in the Fall of 1900. Years of continuing restoration has brought the basilica to what we see today. Unfortunately, a number of my indoor photos didn't come out but I will share what I have.
Once we had toured the inside of the church we walked across the street to the central fountain of Lafayette Square, and then down to the Colonial Park Cemetery.
My cousin used to post on a blog that featured beautiful windows and doors. As we took a stroll through some lovely historic neighborhoods I would have titled mine "staircases, doors and ironwork"
While there are many historical and cultural reasons for painting your front door red, we learned that in Savannah when the door of a home is painted red it means the mortgage of that home has been paid off and you are no longer "in the red".
One of our last stops of the day was a walk through Forsyth Park. We spent some time in front of the fountain under the shade of the oak trees covered in "Spanish moss".
By this time we were overheated and exhausted. so what better way to end the afternoon before returning to our hotel for a rest then to stop for some Leopold's ice cream, a Savannah tradition since 1919. Butter Pecan! Yum!
We had one last evening on River Street before heading out for Florida in the morning.
Looking back, we would have loved to spend an extra day in Savannah and, Lord willing, there will opportunities to return again. Meanwhile, there was still much to look forward to before our journey was over. I hope you enjoyed seeing Savannah through our eyes.