It may seem strange to find such a prime example of Spanish colonial architecture in a city known for its French heritage, but that is just what the Cabildo is. Before becoming a French colony, New Orleans did belong to Spain and this was the seat of its municipal government.
Throughout its centuries of history, the Cabildo has been the site of many critical national milestones. The ceremonies finalizing the transfer of the Louisiana Purchase, by which Thomas Jefferson annexed lands west of the Mississippi to the United States, took place here. Following the Civil War, the Cabildo became home to the Louisiana Supreme Court and was the site of the landmark Plessy vs. Ferguson case, the later overturned ‘separate but equal’ decision.
Today, the Cabildo is part of the Louisiana State Museum, with many artifacts on display. Highlights include remnants from the Battle of New Orleans and Napoleon’s death mask. Even those who don’t go inside, however, can enjoy the Cabildo’s facade as it makes up a landmark third of the iconic Jackson Square.