The Macabre Legend of New Orleans’ Sultan’s Palace
From spooky cemeteries to Cajun cuisine, New Orleans hosts its own unique personality of food, music, and culture. If you are lucky enough to find yourself traveling to the Big Easy, you might be over-whelmed by all that New Orleans has to offer—from walking ghost tours to carriage rides, a rich array of options is available to you.
You might be wondering, which is the best New Orleans tour for first-timers to the city? For skeptics and ghost adventure aficionados alike, the best way to discover the city might be a New Orleans ghost tour at night. After all, New Orleans is considered one of the most haunted cities in all the world.
New Orleans haunted history ranges from fact to almost Hollywood-level fiction, from the real-life atrocities committed by axemen to dubious legends of vampiric casket girls. Whatever your flavor, for those on the hunt of a good ghost adventure, there is simply no better place to do it than New Orleans.
The haunted mansion at 716 Dauphine Street is the perfect place to start. Its story seems to jump right out of the pages of the book, 1001 Arabian Nights. Why? Because it once housed its own character of a very Bluebeard variety.
New Orleans Greets A Mysterious Stranger
They say he–the Sultan, that is–arrived sometime after the Civil War. New Orleans found itself occu-pied by Union armies, and many residents were renting out their homes because of cash shortages brought on by the ravages of war.
The house at 716 Dauphine Street had been built by Jean Baptiste LePrete, but his new tenant was a bit extraordinary. After all, not every newcomer to New Orleans claimed to be a Sultan.
The mysterious stranger’s retinue of slaves and mistresses seemed to support his story; furthermore, if he was a Sultan, he surely behaved like one. He quickly set about creating a kingdom of his home on Dauphine Street, with lavish decorations, draperies, carvings, all reminiscent of his Turkish homeland.
There was one thing that was rather unusual though… he placed chains on all of his doors.
Hardly the actions of someone wishing to be welcomed to the neighborhood.
Carousing turns to Carnage
Less than complimentary rumors soon swirled around the Sultan—he wanted to add to his harem, the locals insisted.
He would even kidnap any beautiful young woman he laid eyes on!
Any unfortunate maidens the Sultan chose to prey upon, would soon find their virtue at risk within the midst of a house of sin–a palace of bodily pleasure, where every whim of the Sultan was fulfilled.
Reputable young ladies soon gave the house a wide berth.
Thus, the Sultan dwelt in infamy even before his story took a bloody turn. The legend came to an apex one dark night when neighbors noticed an unusual sound coming from the mansion on Dauphine Street.
That unusual sound was not that of delightful music and rowdy laughter—it was quite the opposite.
It was an eerie silence.
Where were the festivities usually heard from within? The household of the Sultan was known to be a rather rambunctious bunch.
Then a neighbor sighted it—blood oozing from an upper floor. Soon the police were called in, and as the legend tells it, they arrived at a rather gruesome scene. All of the inhabitants—the women of the Sultan’s harem, his servants, and even the Sultan himself, had been murdered. Their dismal end had come in the most dramatic fashion, it seems—their body parts were strewn here and there. The Sultan, however, had escaped such a bloody fate—or perhaps he had encountered a worse end. He had been buried alive–his hand reaching from beneath the ground in the courtyard. A message had been left behind:
This is what happens to traitors!
Had a dark past followed the Sultan to New Orleans? Some said that the riches the Sultan so richly en-joyed were stolen from his brother (who was the real Sultan all along). Had the brother crossed oceans to take his revenge?
Whoever the murderer was, was never found.
But if you dare to wander the streets of the French Quarter, you might just encounter the mystery your-self. Every New Orleans ghost tour at night stops by the Sultan’s Palace for a reason.
They say the ghosts of the Sultan haunt the house on Dauphine Street to this day.
New Orleans’ Sultan: Legacy of a Legend
The legend of the Sultan’s Palace is perhaps one of the most famous in New Orleans, adding to a roster of illustrious characters from notorious pirates, to bloodthirsty vampires, to murderous axemen.
And if there is one thing that pairs with a good ghost tour, it’s a dram of whiskey. And much like these other characters, the city’s nightlife scene has taken note of the Sultan’s legend.
Not much more than a stone’s throw from the Sultan’s Palace lies The Dungeon Bar. It cheekily takes its name from the legend, and while its theme is primarily heavy-metal (you will see homages to Iron Maiden and other similar bands throughout the bar) you might notice its nuanced tributes to the Sultan’s Palace if you pay attention…
There’s a sign warning as you enter that you are entering the dungeon of the prince. Artwork depicting a nude woman in chains (a reference to the Sultan’s enslaved harem, perhaps?) are hung within. You can even enjoy your drink inside a cage.
Meanwhile, the real Sultan’s Palace (or the Gardette-Lepretre Mansion, as historians would call it) is an apartment building. Its residents claim that they have seen ghostly apparitions of the Sultan him-self.Worst of all, they hear the grotesque sounds of body parts hitting floorboards by night.
The historic mansion’s owner, Nina Nievens, stated in a New Orleans ABC interview that she believes the legend of New Orleans’ Sultan is at best folklore—though she does admit to strange occurrences in the house of a fairly benign kind. It seems the keys often go missing.
She does admit, however, she never feels alone in the house.