Sacramento, CaliforniaAs the capital of California, Sacramento is major city that is known as a financial and economic hub, but it’s also considered a “hipster” city that has an evolving contemporary culture. The Spanish were the first outside settlers in the area, but the indigenous Nisenan people lived there for centuries before Europeans came to California.

When gold was discovered in 1848, the population exploded. Sacramento’s city charter was adopted shortly after, making it the oldest incorporated city in the state. In 1879, Sacramento was named as the permanent state capital. Prior to that, the government met in San Jose, Vallejo and Benicia. Several of the city’s museums revolve around the government and history of Sacramento, but many others tell the story of art and culture within the city, state and county. Here are a few places to experience the rich heritage of Sacramento.

The California Museum

This museum used to be known as “The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts.” It’s just one block from the State Capital, making it easy to visit when you have business with your legislator. One of its signature exhibits is “California Indians: The First People,” which presents the contributions of Native Americans through their own voice, using original art, artifacts and oral histories. In addition to its permanent exhibits, the museum hosts many short exhibits. Don’t miss the “Sikh Project” starting on October 27. It’s to bring awareness and understanding of the Sikh culture.

Mexican Cultural Center of Northern California

The MCCNC offers art, education and culture of the Hispanic and Mexican culture. It began in 1992, as way to preserve the Mexican heritage in Northern California. Today, it has a full calendar of events and supports other organizations that sponsor the legacy of Mexico.

Sacramento Chinese Culture Foundation

Celebrate Chinese heritage with this organization that focuses on Asian cultural awareness to promote peace. Their upcoming calendar features a lecture series on Chinese foods and drinks, art classes about calligraphy and painting, and information about Eastern medicine.

Brazilian Center for Cultural Exchange of Sacramento

Interested in Brazilian culture? This is the place to experience the country without having to fly thousands of miles. The center offers dance, drumming, cooking and other classes and has many different festivals celebrating the rich heritage of Brazil. It also has a Brazilian store with food and other items related to the culture. In addition, the center works with at-risk children.

Italian Cultural Society

This cultural center features films, language, dance and other cultural events that focus on Italy. Some events require reservations, while others are free and open to the public. It’s still a great place to experience another culture without having to get a passport and spend hundreds of dollars.

4 Churches to Celebrate Christmas Eve

The Catholic Church has a strong presence in the city, because the first settlers were Spanish. These four historic churches typically have a special midnight service on Christmas Eve:

  • Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament: This church is probably the most famous church in Sacramento and one of the largest cathedrals west of the Mississippi. The funeral mass for Governor Pat Brown was held here due to its size.
  • Saint Francis of Assisi: This prominent Catholic Church’s architecture is modeled after the Old Mission in Santa Barbara. It was dedicated in 1895.
  • Trinity Episcopal Cathedral: The Episcopal Church first held services in Sacramento in 1847, but the church building wasn’t constructed until 1903. The present church was built in the 1950s. The church is part of Sacramento’s rich history.
  • Sacred Heart Parish Church: The congregation of Sacred Heart Parish formed in 1926. The cornerstone for the beautiful church was laid in 1931. The architecture is Romanesque, but there are influences of Irish design.

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