Spain’s king says his country’s influence in Louisiana is often overlooked

NEW ORLEANS -- King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain spent Friday evening touring the Cabildo and Saint Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square.

Both buildings were constructed in the late 1700s when Louisiana was a Spanish territory.  In fact, much of the architecture and iron work in the French Quarter is really of Spanish design.

The royal couple is in New Orleans to help the city celebrate its 300th birthday.  They were greeted by Governor John Bel Edwards, Mayor LaToya Cantrell, and other elected leaders when they arrived at Armstrong International on Thursday evening.  Friday morning, the king and queen were officially welcomed to the city during a celebration at Gallier Hall.

Mayor Cantrell give the royal couple a key to the city and also revealed a plaque marking their visit.

During their tour of the city, the king and queen have been greeted by cheers from fans who have assembled outside of each of their stops.

At the Gallier Hall event Friday morning, King Felipe VI thanked the elected leaders and the people of the city for the warm welcome.  He also said that New Orleans, while considered to be a city with a heavy French influence, owes much of its past and legacy to Spain.

"It might be said that Spain's history here in Louisiana is not sufficiently well known, despite the amount of painstaking research by historians and academics. Therefore we must work to make this Spanish heritage and no less importantly the enduring Spanish legacy here much more widely known," the king told the crowd.

He also expressed his approval of an idea that New Orleans adopt a sister city in Spain.

The royal couple has one more event on Saturday at the New Orleans Museum of Art.  Then they will travel to San Antonio, another city with a significant Spanish history, which is also celebrating its 300th birthday.

From San Antonio, the king and queen will travel to Washington, DC, and meet with President Trump.