Charleston, United States

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Originally an important seaport and major slave trading centre, today the cobblestone streets of Charleston's large downtown district are lined with tall, narrow houses flaunting ornate iron balconies, wooden shutters and shaded porches - timeless features of southern architecture. Amongst piazzas and plantations, mansions that once belonged to wealthy colonial merchants masquerade as museums, with National Russell and Heywood-Washington House being two of the finest. Beauty exudes from the magnificent gardens of Magnolia and White Point, and after a carriage ride around the city pay a visit to Mount Pleasant or the area west of Ashley River. Charleston Museum offers a unique insight into the city's history, and the fascinating spectacle of South Carolina Aquarium offers fabulous views over the harbour where Fort Sumter, a national monument commemorating the first shots of the American Civil War, stands proud.