The Best Historical Sites to Visit in Baltimore

Incredible sights like the Baltimore Basilica make the city a history buffs dream
Incredible sights like the Baltimore Basilica make the city a history buff's dream | © Mira / Alamy Stock Photo
Frank Lopez

Writer

Baltimore has always had shrewd, artistic and civic-minded citizens that have shaped this port city. These citizens have not only witnessed, but have also fostered change during incredible times, with different communities and cultures coming together and making history. In 1812, during the Civil War, the state of Maryland itself was at the center of this very seismic shift in America’s future that still shapes it today. The monuments to all these people and events are peppered across the city of Baltimore and Culture Trip have chosen a few that should not be missed.

1. USS Constellation

Museum

This 22-gun sloop served in several military conflicts for over a century and played a major part in ending the foreign slave trade. Commissioned in 1855 and located within Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, one can descend from deck to deck on America’s last sail-only warship to get a hands-on experience of how brave sailors fought, ate and slept in close proximity.

2. The Baltimore Basilica

Historical Landmark

Marvel at the grandeur of light and space and explore the vaults of the crypt for 365 days of the year in what is officially known as the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption. This awe-inspiring testament to faith was constructed between 1806-1821 following Thomas Jefferson’s vision. This is America’s first great cathedral, and a Neoclassical masterpiece at that.

3. The Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum

Museum

In the heart of Richmond’s historic Shockoe Bottom District, Edgar Allan Poe’s wonderfully preserved home from the 1830s is open in honor of his mysterious legacy. While the house is unfurnished, visitors can walk across the same floors and past woodwork that the writer lived with – within the very walls in which he wrote his gothic poems and stories. Essential to this pilgrimage, and a very Poe thing to do, would be to take a visit to his graveside, only a short walk away at the Westminster Burial Ground.

4. Fort McHenry

Shrine, Park

Set within the wonderfully green national park and used by Baltimore locals for healthy recreation, lies this famous fort, which famously defended Baltimore from the British Navy during the war of 1812. Having witnessed such a feat, Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the words of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’. Ranger programs are offered daily throughout the year, as well as special events and tattoo ceremonies for those who are military buffs or just fancy the energy of marching and bagpipes.

5. The Jewish Museum of Maryland

Museum

Visit two magnificently historic synagogues, only ten minutes’ walk from the Inner Harbor, which flank three exhibit galleries dedicated to telling the stories of the Jewish people of Maryland and their role in the world. In one of the permanent exhibitions, we witness the experience of immigrants arriving on the East Coast during the late 1800s and early 1900s by being immersed into a microcosm of sound, images and textures. The passionately led tour of the synagogue is a must.

6. The Frederick Douglass–Isaac Myers Maritime Museum

Museum

In this small yet strikingly poignant museum overlooking the harbor, we learn of the African American community in Baltimore during the 1800s through the story of Frederick Douglass, an enslaved child and young man who helped lead black people into a new era; and Isaac Myers – a man free born who rose from shipping clerk to the pinnacle of becoming a national leader. Witness the recreation of the first African American shipyard through video and historical pieces.

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