Nestled in the heart of Alabama, Selma is a city rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. It is perhaps best known for its role in the civil rights movement, with landmarks such as the Edmund Pettus Bridge and the Civil Rights Memorial Park serving as reminders of the city’s past. In addition to its history, Selma also boasts a thriving arts and cultural scene, with galleries, theaters, and music venues showcasing the work of local artists and performers. Nature lovers will appreciate the city’s proximity to natural wonders such as the Cahaba River and the Old Cahawba Archaeological Park. The three locations I’m listing below are absolute must-sees when you visit the area.
- The Edmund Pettus Bridge
This iconic bridge played a pivotal role in the civil rights movement, serving as the site of the infamous Bloody Sunday march in 1965. The bridge spans over the Alabama River and is a testament to the resilience and determination of the civil rights activists who fought for justice and equality.
Visitors can walk across the bridge and take in the breathtaking views of the river and the surrounding landscape. Along the way, interpretive signs provide historical context and information about the events that unfolded there.
The Edmund Pettus Bridge is located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 80 and Alabama Highway 41. Whether you’re a history buff, a civil rights advocate, or simply a traveler looking to immerse yourself in the culture of the Deep South, the Edmund Pettus Bridge is a must-see destination.
- The Civil Rights Memorial Park
This park is a must-see attraction for anyone interested in the history of the civil rights movement. The park features a stunning black granite wall engraved with the names of individuals who lost their lives during the fight for civil rights. The centerpiece of the park is the Civil Rights Memorial, designed by architect Maya Lin, which commemorates the martyrs of the movement. The park is located at 400 Washington St, Selma, AL 36701, at one end of the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Admission is free, making it an accessible and educational destination for travelers of all backgrounds.
- The Old Cahawba Archaelogical Park
If you’re interested in exploring the history and archaeology of Alabama, the Old Cahawba Archaeological Park is a must-visit destination. This stunning park is located in Orrville, Alabama (just a 20-minute drive from Selma), and is home to the historic ghost town of Cahawba, which was the state’s first capital from 1820 to 1825.
Visitors can explore the ruins of this once-thriving town, which include the foundations of old buildings, cemeteries, and the remains of an old bridge. Interpretive signs provide context and information about the town’s history and the people who lived there. The park also features hiking and walking trails, birdwatching opportunities, and picnic areas.
The Old Cahawba Archaeological Park is home to a number of historic structures, including an old church that dates back to the early 19th century. The church was built in 1849 and was originally known as the St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. It served as a place of worship for the people of Cahawba until the town was abandoned during the Civil War. Today, it’s empty and unfurnished, but can be rented for special events and photoshoots.
Admission to the Old Cahawba Archaeological Park is free, although donations are welcome. Guided tours are available for a small fee and should be reserved in advance. The park is located at 9518 Cahaba Road, Orrville, AL 36767, and is open from 9 am to 5 pm, Wednesday through Saturday, and from 12 pm to 5 pm on Sundays.
Cahawba’s Negro Burial Ground
Inside the park, respectfully walk through the Cahawba’s Negro Burial Ground, which is a somber reminder of the lives and struggles of enslaved Africans and their descendants in Alabama’s early history. The burial ground contains the graves of enslaved individuals and free people of color who lived and worked in the area. It serves as a testament to the resilience and strength of these individuals in the face of oppression and adversity and as a poignant reminder of the importance of acknowledging and preserving all aspects of history, even those difficult to confront.
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