Admittedly, it is not necessarily in the top tier of US tourist destinations due to extremely strong competition. Nevertheless, one or the other could even have been there before – without necessarily knowing it. How is that and what is it about? It’s about the city of Saint Paul, which, together with its much better known neighbor Minneapolis, forms the so-called Twin Cities.
The name says it all: if you don’t know the city limits exactly, you will imperceptibly cross them again and again and sometimes you will not know where he (or she) is exactly. Strict administrative officials, on the other hand, know this very well, can precisely outline the urban area of Saint Paul and accordingly assign the sights and attractions unequivocally. This is how it should be here too.
A city defines itself through culture
With a total population of 287,151, Saint Paul is not as internationally known as Minneapolis, but that doesn’t make the city a gray mouse. On the contrary. It is characterized by a lively cultural life and the corresponding facilities. And while Minneapolis literally surrounds Saint Paul, the community is by no means small. With a population of just under 300,000, it can easily keep up with some of the major European cities. Oh yeah, and there were a few little things. Saint Paul is the capital of Minnesota and it is beautifully situated on the Mississippi River. It has a short but colorful history and is one of the most “livable” cities in the entire United States. Curious? Then a planned and intended detour from Minneapolis to Saint Paul will not be difficult for your next stay!
The past is really cinematic here
Saint Paul’s story is ready for a movie. The city was founded in 1854, but gained its first dubious fame in the early 20th century, during Prohibition. While America was officially on dry land, gangsters in Saint Paul made sure that the alcohol flowed anyway – and they by no means let it end there. Banks and trains were robbed, there were kidnappings and wild shootings. Today, of course, all of that is history. Even the nickname “Pig’s eye” for the city is not reminiscent of a criminal but of an early settler.
The memory of the gangsters is kept alive by official city tours that lead to the – then – wicked nightclubs, casinos and the sites of famous criminal cases. The “Wabasha Street Caves” (215 Wabasha St S, wabashastreetcaves.com) which you can of course visit on your own. It is an underground night club built into a rock cave. In 1933 it was known under the telling name “Castle Royal”. Shootings don’t happen there anymore, instead they dance to great live music.
St. Boniface is waiting for German believers
Anyone who may have sinned a little while visiting the “Wabasha Street Caves” should visit the “Saint Paul Cathedral” (239 Selby Ave, cathedralsaintpaul.org) recommended. But of course you can also visit the sacred building that dominates the skyline of Saint Paul if you have a pure white conscience. Around 800,000 visitors come year after year to admire the magnificent architecture or attend concerts. The cathedral is also famous far beyond the borders of Minnesota for its two “Skinner” organs. Catholic believers can of course also take part in the service here. Incidentally, in Saint Paul there are six smaller chapels dedicated to the patron saints of those countries from which most of the Catholic immigrants came. For the Germans, St. Boniface was thought of with a chapel.
Lively past and colorful present
A very different kind of return to the past can be found at Fort Snelling (200 Tower Ave, historicfortsnelling.org) experience. This former military fortress played a huge role in the founding of the city. When missionaries and explorers, traders and adventurers first came to the area in the early 19th century, the fort offered them protection. Today it is open as a museum village from May to November and gives visitors an impression of life in the early days of the USA.
The seat of the House of Representatives and the Senate of Minnesota, which is located on the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Blvd is located at number 75. In his designs for the “Minnesota State Capitol” (mnhs.org/capitol) are clearly inspired by St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and the golden quadriga above the main portal undoubtedly also has European ancestors. Nevertheless, the seat of government is an imposing sight, especially after the recent extensive renovation.
The fine arts occupy a significant place in Saint Paul. The city’s music and theater scene may not be outstanding, but it is very vibrant and diverse. So if you like to go out, listen to music, dance, love the theater, you won’t get bored in Saint Paul. It may not always be the big names from Broadway who are on stage here. But the standard is high and the houses are seen as a stepping stone for great careers. The selection ranges from cabarets and small experimental stages to established theaters with a classic repertoire. One of the largest and most elegant addresses is the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts (345 Washington Street, ordway.org). The center is also home to the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota State Opera, and a Schubert Ensemble.