Walking through the narrow streets of south Charleston reminds one of Europe. Rows of houses, some leaning slightly resemble some of the houses in Amsterdam. First floor windows are shuttered to keep the annual horde of tourists from peeking into drawing room windows. What would appear to be the front of the house from the street is often actually the side. The houses are frequently fenced in and gated with the front of the house facing a courtyard with opulent gardens under massive shade trees. Pansies line the walks and lush ferns hang from verandahs. Many houses have verandahs on the second as well as the third floor that extend the entire length of the house.
This part of South Carolina is called low country and when approaching Charleston by car you realize why. Like concrete ribbons suspended in the sky several highways snake their way across acres of marshland that surrounds the old city of Charleston. In the center of town is Marion Square where farmers sell their produce twice a week. Nearby is the information center where travelers can pick up brochures regarding accommodations, maps, locating points of interest. If walking is your pleasure you can purchase a booklet that points out various routes to view the marvelous homes of old Charleston or you can strike out on your own. Stroll along King St. where stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue are located as well as various restaurants. Market St. features an interesting array of shops selling clothing, giftware and souvenirs. Follow Church St. south to see the oldest church in Charleston and continue on to Battery Park where old cannons line the perimeter of the park. Here the Ashley River converges with the Copper River and one quickly realizes that this location was a great vantage point for a settlement during pre-Civil War days. Look across the water to Fort Sumter, a man-made island where the first shot was fired that began the Civil War.
Part of the charm of Charleston is the horse-drawn carriages that can be seen rolling through the streets with guides extolling the architecture and history of the city to interested tourists. If following horses isn’t your pleasure mini-tour buses with guides can be reserved as well. Whether you appreciate history or architecture Charleston is a wonderful city to enjoy.