Steeped in 300 years of history, many say New Orleans is the most haunted city in the United States, and maybe the entire world. Generations of people from around the globe have settled, or in the case of slaves, were brought here against their will. This deeply spiritual city is a melting pot of culture and religions. The Spanish and the French fought over the city in the early colonial days, each leaving their influences on architecture, food, and Catholicism. African slaves were brought here and impacted nearly every facet of the city including their own beliefs on religion. All of these influences have woven together over the years to create the vibrant city we know today. However, those same intense and varied beliefs are also likely to blame for New Orleans being haunted as it is.
In a city where just about everyone has a ghost story, it can be challenging to spot the truth from the tales. We have gathered our top haunted New Orleans places into a list complete with the story how they got their ghosts. While some records are better than others, these are the stories and legends that have been told to us or are known almost as fact by New Orleanians. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, if you’re are looking for the haunted and spooky side of New Orleans, these are the places for you.
St. Louis Cemetery #1
One of the top ghostly attractions in the Big Easy is definitely St. Louis Cemetery #1. Named for the main church in the city, the St. Louis Cathedral, this was the first of 3 plots of land where parishioners were buried. Among the names that line the facades of the mausoleums are some of the most interesting and notorious in the long history of New Orleans. The cemetery’s most visited resident is the powerful Voodoo Priestess, Marie Laveau. Local lore says that if you find Marie Laveau’s tomb and knock on it three times and draw “XXX” on to it, then knock three more times she will grant your wish. (This is most likely rooted in false lore, especially since the practice of Voodoo has a very high respect and reverence for the dead – if you visit do not desecrate Marie Laveau’s or any other grave, treat them all with the same respect you’d treat your grandmother’s grave!)
To add to the souls that may be wandering the aisles of this particular cemetery, it saw more than 20 Yellow Fever outbreaks that sent thousands of people here well before their time. Between all the St. Louis Cemeteries, there are the remains of more than 100,000 people. So, the odds might be in your favor that some of them may have hung around their final resting place.
Aside from the spooky backstories of those that rest here, it’s a visually stunning place and something very uniquely New Orleans, as the deceased must be buried above ground due to the city being at sea level. If you have the chance – actually, no, you really need to take a cemetery tour to see it for yourself. We visited St. Louis #1 with one of the city’s top experts, Robert Florence, who has spent decades inside the cemeteries of New Orleans. He was able to tell us about the people behind the stones, and show us even more beauty than just the rows and rows of ornate stone structures.
Have a Physic Reading with Cari Roy
Tap into the other side with the renowned medium, Cari Roy on your next visit to New Orleans. Even if your other attempts to make contact fall short, she can help you make a connection. Cari sees the world in a different way than the rest of us, and according to her, she can see and feel people that have passed on.
We sat down with Cari inside the Séance Room at Muriel’s for a reading. Within minutes, Hannah was in tears from what Cari told her about a family member that was watching over her. She seemed to know things that just would not be possible for her to know and she told us about them in a very special way. They were things that would only be known by other family members. Cari was a delight to talk with and it was very interesting and sometimes intense to have her read us. Like most people, we too were curious about what our future holds. We asked several questions about our lives, in which Cari gave us an interesting look ahead. We aren’t going to share any details here, you’ll have to sit down with Cari yourself.
Aside from the reading, Cari also gave us a few tips to help track down paranormal activity. According to Cari if you really want to see a ghost, she says skip the cemeteries and focus on the buildings and places that meant something to people. If you make the time to see her, she’ll also give you insight on other paranormal things and a few other fantastic stories about ghosts and spirits.
Home to one of the city’s most well-known and active ghosts, Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan, his spirt is such a part of the restaurant they set a table for him every day complete with a glass of red wine. The reason he seems to call this his eternal home is he had this property built for him and his family following the Great New Orleans Fire.
He loved this home, but his love for gambling was stronger which lead him to wager the house in a poker game. After losing the home he was devastated and he never left, committing suicide shortly after. Jourdan checked out on the second floor of what is now Muriel’s Restaurant in the French Quarter near Jackson Square. This used to be the slave quarters at the time, but now it is part of the restaurant’s seance room.
To this day people still see and feel Jourdan‘s presence. He doesn’t show himself in full human form, but more of a mist or occasionally he’ll make an object float in mid-air. However, he isn’t the only resident ghost, there is also another more rambunctious spirit who every once and awhile tosses a bar glass against a brick wall.
This picture perfect square in the heart of the Cresent City was once the site of public executions. Multiple people say they have spotted the spirits of those that departed here. Another ghost you might spot wandering the nicely manicured gardens on Jackson Square is the monk Pere Dagobert. He often appears to people walking through the square carrying a lantern. Others see the monk with a full entourage of 6 shadowy figures in tow.
According to legend, the 6 figures are a group of 6 French rebels who challenged the new Spanish rulers in 1769. These men were denied a proper Catholic burial by the Spanish leaders, but Pere Dagobert was said to bring the families of the slain men together and he gave them a proper burial in St. Louis Cemetery #1. If you don’t see the monk and his rebels, you might just hear them. Many have described hearing “Kyrie” (a religious chant or song) being sung by the ghost of Pere Dagobert in Jackson Square late at night.
The LaLaurie Mansion
You wouldn’t know from street level that this well-kept French Quarter Mansion is one of the most haunted places in the city and respectively the world. Situated on the quiet corner of Royal and Governor Nicholls streets, in the vibrant touristy neighborhood, is a gray three-story building with a past darker than the black wrought iron railings that decoratively wrap the mansion’s balcony. The fact that it is a three-story building is important because this is the level where the wealthy LaLaurie Family carried out torturous experiments and violently abused the slaves they kept.
The abuse was said to be so bad that one young girl, instead of taking another round of abuse, threw herself from a window on the very same third floor. Another slave who had been chained to the stove and beaten, tried to end the suffering by starting the mansion on fire while still inside. When police and firemen came to help, they found the woman badly burned and she told them what was happening in the house. Between the abusive Mrs. Delphine LaLaurie and her doctor husband that carried out bizarre and horrifying procedures on living human subjects, they estimated around 300 total people died in that building.
Some say they have seen the ghost of the young girl that leaped from the top floor repeating her final act over and over. Most say the house is cursed at best, if not deeply haunted by the spirits that were mutilated and murder within these walls.
This house and the LaLaurie family have attracted quite the attention of the past several years with the popularity of the American Horror Story TV show. Some say the stories about the families have been sensationalized, but no one denies that she did abuse and kill multiple slaves within the confines of the LaLaurie Mansion.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Church
One of the city’s oldest standing religious buildings, this church was originally built to give the final mass to thousands of Yellow Fever victims. Located just in front of St. Louis Cemetery #1, this church saw the majority of victims. Many of the victims that lie in unmarked graves inside of St. Louis Cemetery #1 came through this church before being put to rest. It is also very close to the cemetery itself and while it may not have an official resident ghost, it might just get some spiritual foot traffic.
Another interesting aspect of this church is the statue of St. Expedite and its ties to the Voodoo Community. Catholicism can sometimes overlap for the people who practice Voodoo because many were forced to hide their true religion and assign saints to aspects of their beliefs. There is one particular saint that they see as more important or accessible than others – St. Expedite. While the name may sound made up, his name dictates its use in the modern world. This saint deals with problems of the now. He is the one people go to for help with things in their everyday lives and for quick solutions. To further complicate the issue, some Catholic churches don’t recognize St. Expedite. However, here at Our Lady of Guadalupe, people believe.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop
Don’t let the name fool you, Lafitte’s, this was more than a blacksmith shop, it’s one of the oldest standing buildings operating as a bar in the country. The name on the sign is for the original owner and pirate, Jean Lafitte (or possibly his brother). He was infamous in the early days of New Orleans for running smuggling operations and pirate ships throughout Central America. The story goes he liked to hang out at his brother’s blacksmith shop which doubled as an absinthe bar. Over time it became more bar than blacksmith shop.
According to legend, everyone used to come and drink here, even in the afterlife. It’s said to bring in all sorts of spirits, and not of the distilled variety. However, the most prominent ghost, as you might have guessed, is Jean Lafitte himself. He appears in almost full human body form to most that spot him, which is rarer than you’d think. So if you happen to spot a man in a very, very vintage sailor getup, don’t be alarmed, it might be the ghost of Jean Lafitte. Don’t worry though, he isn’t known to interact with anyone, just simply vanish.
Rumor has it that he might not be the only haunt in this historic building. Many patrons have reported seeing a pair of roving red eyes in the dark corners of the bar. These eyes are thought to be a sign of a demonic haunting rather than an aberration of a ghost. If you spot a set of these eyes, it might just be your cue to close your tab for the night.
St. Louis Cathedral
Known as the center of the city and spiritual icon for so many of the residents, it should not come as a surprise that a few spirts still call this church home. The spirt that most people tend to see is Pere Antoine, the beloved Spanish monk. When he died in 1829 he was laid to rest inside the church. He is often seen standing on the church balconies and other parts of the church, especially around the holiday season.
The Voodoo Museum
Without knowing a little bit about Voodoo this place looks like it was straight out of your worst nightmare. Voodoo has its roots in Western and Central African religions brought over by slaves to Louisiana. In New Orleans, the roots of Voodoo took hold in a very unique way when forced into a strict Catholic city.
This particular form of the religion puts heavy emphasis on charms and amulets. These trinkets were thought to protect you and your family or harm your enemies. Now just about every square inch of the Voodoo Museum is covered with items used in the practice of Voodoo. For those who believe, this place holds tremendous energy and you might just see more than you bargained for.
Often rated as one of the most haunted hotels in the county, the Monteleone has one particularly famous resident. In the late 1800’s, the Begere Family lost a child while staying at the Monteleone. Their son, Maurice, succumbed to a fever while staying on the 14th floor of this historic hotel. Right away, as soon as the next night, Maurice’s mother saw him in the hotel and he told her “Mommy, don’t cry. I’m fine.”
The sightings continue today. Guests staying on the 14th floor (which is actually the 13th floor, creepy!) often report seeing a friendly child playing in the hallway. Some even go as far as to say the child entered their room while they were on their bed. Paranormal experts agree that this floor has significant activity. Sleep tight!
Aside from Maurice, another reason to pay a visit to this haunted hotel is the Carousel Bar, spinning its way around the top of the French Quarter. This rotating bar is topped with whimsical old-fashioned carousel, sans the oscillating fiberglass horses. So, even if you don’t see a ghost it’s still a great place to catch a drink.
The Pharmacy Museum
It was here in this building where the first licensed pharmacist in the country worked to cure the city’s ailments. Louis Dufilho ran this pharmacy located at 514 Chartres St in the French Quarter in the 1820s. It has since been turned into a museum, but it seems not all of the previous residents have left the old building yet. The Dufilho’s lost two young children while living here and operating their business. Some people report seeing the children playing in the courtyard just behind the museum.
On a slightly darker note, many years later the pharmacy was sold to a Dr. Dupas who was not such a nice man. He reportedly used this building to carry out experiments on pregnant slaves. Multiple people have reported spotting a ghost fitting the description of Dr. Dupas standing in the old pharmacy wearing a brown suit and matching hat. He has also been known to throw books and mischievously move items around within the museum.
Cafe du Monde
Everyone’s favorite spot for beignets and chicory-laced coffee can’t even escape an occasional haunting. Although among the least documented in the city’s vast array of paranormal activity, there have been stories about a ghostly waiter at the famous cafe. People have said they’ve had their order taken by a peculiar waiter named “Blue”, only to have him never return with their beignets. The ghost is said to take the order of guests and then disappear into the crowd. Although seemingly harmless compared to things like demonic hauntings found other places in the city, it’s an awful ghostly trick to delay someone the sugary satisfaction of a beignet and a cup of coffee early in the morning.
About Our List of Haunted Places in New Orleans
When making this list during our visit to New Orleans, we met with several experts to hear their stories about the ghosts and their understanding of the paranormal world. We also learned the documented stories of some of the people accused of haunting the city. Substantiating claims of ghosts or things of this nature is almost impossible, but the more people who tell the same story makes you wonder if there isn’t something really there. We hope we helped raise your interest in checking out some of these places on your next visit to New Orleans, along with raise the hair on the back of your neck.
More on Haunted Places in New Orleans
This list is only a small fraction of the ghost stories that exist around New Orleans. If we missed your favorite ghost or paranormal story, leave us a note in the comments below.
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We were invited by New Orleans & Company to come and explore their city, all thoughts & opinions are our own.This post may contain affiliate links, see our disclosure