is a city in Nelson County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 10,374 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Nelson County. It is named for David Bard, the man who obtained the land for the city from the governor of Virginia, and his brother William Bard, the surveyor who laid out the town.
Bardstown is the second oldest city in Kentucky. It was settled in the 1780s, and received its charter in 1790.
Bardstown was the first center of Catholicism west of the Appalachian Mountains. The Diocese of Bardstown was established on February 8, 1808, and served all Catholics between the Appalachians and the Mississippi River, an area now served by 44 dioceses and archdioceses in 10 states. Its cathedral still stands as the Basilica of Saint Joseph Proto-Cathedral. The seat of the diocese was transferred to Louisville in 1841. Bardstown is still the home of a Catholic high school, Bethlehem High School.
The Old Talbott Tavern, built in 1779 and located just off the Courthouse Square in the center of Bardstown, is another piece of Bardstown's rich history. Several notable American icons have passed through the tavern's doors, including Abraham Lincoln and Daniel Boone. Several bullet holes located in an upstairs wall are reputed to have been put there by Jesse James. It's rumored that some of the people who stayed at the tavern in years past never checked out, even after death, as some people claim to have encountered ghosts or other paranormal activity at the tavern.
Bardstown is the home of My Old Kentucky Home State Park. Here, Judge John Rowan and his wife Ann Lytle Rowan built "Federal Hill," the mansion that allegedly inspired Stephen Foster's song "My Old Kentucky Home". Federal Hill is depicted on the reverse of the Kentucky state quarter issued by the United States Mint in 2001.
Several distilleries operate in and around Bardstown including Jim Beam, Maker's Mark, and Heaven Hill. The large amount of bourbon produced in the area gave rise to the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival and Bardstown's title
. A public museum, the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey, showcases this aspect of local history.
Bardstown's downtown area is a historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.