New Orleans is one of the most unique cities of the world. Vibrant with its diverse culture, lively jazz and blues music scene, and characteristic regional cuisine, New Orleans is steeped in a rich history created by a confluence of cultures from around the world. In recent history, Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in 2005 flooding many of its residents out of their homes and wreaking havoc on the community as a whole. Although still recovering and rebuilding, the soul of this special city never parted and New Orleans is lively as ever with its many celebrations spanning from legendary Mardi Gras to Jazz Fest and the year-round festivities the city is famous for.
Located in southeastern Louisiana, New Orleans is the largest city in the state and is the major tourist destination in the region. Its French influence dates back to when French settlers discovered lower Mississippi River area and claimed the area as its own, naming the port city Nouvelle Orléans, founded in 1718. The French Quarter (Vieux Carre) was the first part of the city to be settled and is now the most popular district in the city for tourists to visit. The city's Creole culture was made up of a diverse group of early settlers from France, Germany, Spain and slaves from Africa. Alternatively, the Cajun culture is made up of the Acadian people who were mainly from the Nova Scotia region of Canada and fled the area when the British took control over Canada. The Cajuns took to the bayous and rural areas of Louisiana, where their culture was most prevalent. By 1763, the Spanish took over and the city was under Spanish control and influence until the French took back control in 1801, after which Napoleon sold the territory in the Louisiana Purchase to the United States in 1803. The melting pot of cultures and people from the early days still have a great influence on the city today and can be seen in all the pockets and corners of the city from its cuisine, music and festivals.
With the diverse mix of cultures comes a great assortment of sights and attractions for tourists to visit. History buffs will certainly want to marvel at the colonial French and Spanish architecture most prominent in the French Quarter and the palatial Victorian mansions throughout Uptown. Because the city of New Orleans is actually located below sea level, the above-ground cemeteries are an interesting icon and attraction. Museums, churches and entertainment venues abound throughout the city making it a popular destination for adult activities such as drinking on Bourbon Street and joining the boisterous crowds during Mardi Gras. Families can discover the city's roots, sample its spicy seafood cuisine, stroll through the historic districts and enjoy the many parks and museums the city has to offer. New Orleans embodies the joie de vivre (joy of life) and laissez les bons temps rouler (let the good times roll) mottoes and considers them both a way of life. Renowned for constant celebration of culture, cuisine, music and life, New Orleans is a place like no other.