Have you ever fallen in love with a city before you even visited it? This happened to me with Savannah, Georgia after reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil a few years ago. I really liked this novel by John Berendt, but I was especially enthralled by the many descriptions of Savannah, its unique atmosphere and its rich history.
After dreaming about it for a long time, I finally got to visit Savannah on a road trip my partner and I did from Ontario to Georgia. And even though my expectations were high, I was not disappointed!
I am at a loss for words to describe how beautiful Savannah is. I only stayed there for a few days, but here are three reasons why I think Savannah is worth the trip.
It’s a city full of history
Savannah is Georgia’s oldest colonial city. Founded in 1733 by state founder James Oglethorpe, Savannah was built on a bluff along the Savannah River, a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean. Upon his arrival, Oglethorpe became friend with the local Yamacraw chief, and the two of them pledged mutual goodwill, allowing the city to grow quickly and unhindered.
After the Revolutionary War, Savannah began to prosper. Slavery, which had previously been forbidden in Georgia, was legalized, and Savannah became a major commercial port, largely due to the cotton industry. Lavish residences were built in the city, and many churches sprang up.
During the Civil War, the local authorities negotiated with General Sherman to surrender Savannah to the Union army, in exchange for it being spared. This is why the city retained many of its historic residences and buildings (while other major cities in the South, such as Charleston and Atlanta, were burned down).
Many of these historic residences have been restored over the past few decades, bringing them back to their former beauty. Visiting the historic center of Savannah is therefore to plunge into the tumultuous history of the United States. There are several museums, and several historic residences offer guided tours.
Savannah is so green!
This is the first thing that struck me when I arrived: Savannah is so green! There are so many trees in the historic center that it feels like walking through a vast garden. This is due to the abundance of live oaks, tall trees with crooked branches that stay green all year round. These are often covered with Spanish moss, a moss that hangs from the branches of trees and gives the streets of the city a very special atmosphere.
Savannah is also known for its many azaleas and magnolias, which usually bloom in the spring.
The squares give a unique look to Savannah
Savannah is the first “planned” city in the United States. Oglethorpe laid out the city in a series of grids where there were wide avenues interspersed with many shaded public squares. In its early days, Savannah had 24 of these famous squares. 22 still exist today.
These squares definitely give Savannah a unique look. There are large trees, monuments, paths, and benches. Many of the sumptuous historic residences are found around these squares. The squares slow down car traffic considerably, making the historic center of the city a perfect place to get around on foot.
The photos do not do justice to the uniqueness of the city because to visit Savannah is to immerse yourself in a special atmosphere, surrounded by tall trees and unique architecture, where birdsong reigns and the pace of life seems a little slower.
In short, if you like history, architecture and green spaces, Savannah is definitely a must-visit. I can’t wait to come back!