Europeans began settling Charlestown nearly four centuries ago and it was an independent municipality until 1874, when Boston gobbled it. It is therefore one of that city’s more historic neighborhoods, with a past steeped in revolution. Here are its six must-visit sites.
Bunker Hill Monument
The monument and its surrounding park commemorate the first major battle of the Revolutionary War on June 17, 1775. It was technically a British win, though the steadfastness of American soldiers signaled a longer conflict to come.
The 221-foot obelisk—with a statue of American commander William Prescott in front—dates from 1842 and its interior is open most days for climbing.
The Battle of Bunker Hill Museum
The museum across the street from the monument not only tells the revolutionary past of the neighborhood, including the story of the famous battle, but Charlestown’s more recent history as well. Admission is free, though reservations are necessary for parties of 10 or more.
The museum is also along the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile path through the Boston area that traces much of the Revolutionary War era in the region.
The world’s oldest commissioned battleship is open for tours. And, once visitors are done touring the circa-1797 vessel itself, they can check out the nearby Constitution museum.
Note: The ship itself is free to tour, though those 18 and over should bring a valid ID. The museum has a suggested donation of $10 to $15 per adult, and $5 to $10 per child.
Charlestown Navy Yard
The yard dates from 1800 and was a working part of the Navy until 1974. A vast part of it is now a national park, including the part encompassing the U.S.S. Constitution and its museum. It also provides some stellar views of downtown Boston and East Boston.
St. Mary-St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church
Patrick Keely, a leading architect of Catholic churches in America in the 19th century, designed this building at 55 Warren Street in the late 1880s. Of particular interest is the hammer-beam oak ceiling.
The oldest bar in Massachusetts, the Warren Tavern dates from 1780 and was a favorite of the likes of Paul Revere and George Washington. Probably best to end any tour of Charlestown here at 2 Pleasant Street.