Every Baton Rouge visit should start at this Gothic castle

Everyone knows Baton Rouge has great food and music but did you know it has a giant castle too? Right in the heart of Downtown this castle is a former state capitol and current museum of Louisiana political history.

Downtown Baton Rouge is a sight to behold and the perfect place to start a Southern Weekend. On the East bank of the Mississippi you’ll find a modern art museum, a decommissioned battle ship, blues rooms, bars and restaurants of all shapes, sizes, and flavors, and no less than two stunning state capitol buildings. And that’s all before you set foot on the campus of Louisiana State University.

Those two state capitol buildings are a must-see when in Baton Rouge. The current state capitol is an art deco masterpiece and the tallest state capitol in the United States. The Old State Capitol, though, is somehow more unique. It is an all white Gothic castle that sits upon a grassy green bluff right off the Mississippi River.

Byron Washington, a historian and lifelong Baton Rouge resident, told us that was deliberate. The design and placement of the Old State Capitol was intended to inspire awe in anyone who drove their boat up the Mississippi River at that time. One steamboat captain of that era, author and noted grouch Mark Twain, reportedly hated the capitol.

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If the building is distinct enough to inspire a reaction from Mark Twain and important enough to make the National Register of Historic Places, surely it’s worth a stop on your Southern Weekend. And while you’re in downtown, you should probably stop off for some gumbo. And maybe a drink. And definitely some blues music. And… well, you get the picture.