One of the nations oldest continuously occupied European settlement. It was founded in 1565 - over forty years before the English settlement of Jamestown. St. Augustine has done a wonderful job preserving its heritage by restoring many of the buildings, shops, homes, and streets - some of which are centuries old.
Spanish conquistador Ponce de Leon first set foot in this area in
a permanent settlement was established by the Spanish in 1565. Numerous
battles with the French and British over the area ensued for nearly
200 years. Castillo de San Marcos, a fortress built of coquina seashell "rock" in
the late 1600s, withstood several attacks and sieges.
The Spanish remained entrenched in the area until 1763 when they ceded the area to the British in exchange for recently captured Havana.Twenty years later Spain regained its old possession through another exchange - this time by returning captured Bahamas to the British. Spain retained the area until 1821 when Florida joined the United States as a territory.
St. Augustine's historical sense can still be experienced through the narrow cobblestone streets, and restored coquina and stone buildings. Picturesque streets with stone buildings from the 1700 and 1800s are accented with moss draped oak trees.
Castillo de San Marcos with its 12 foot thick, 33 foot high walls still stands as a monument to Spain's determination to control this area. This oldest masonry fort in the US overlooks Matanzas Bay. The fort successfully withstood every enemy attack. It is a well preserved example of Spanish colonial fortifications used in the New World.
Other prime examples of preserved structures include the oldest wooden schoolhouse and the oldest house. The schoolhouse is the oldest surviving wood building in the city. Both buildings are nearly 300 years old.
Other points of interest include the Lightner Museum and the Spanish Quarter Village. The Lightner Museum is a Spanish style complex built in the late 1800s by industrialist-millionaire Henry Flagler.Originally the Hotel Alcazar, the elegant structure is now a museum containing displays of cut and blown glass, porcelain, antiques and old musical instruments. The Spanish Quarter Village is a restored 1740s Spanish colonial village. Here guides clad in period clothing provide a tour of the area with a narrated historical background.
St. Augustine also has miles of beautiful white sand beaches. Several areas permit vehicular traffic.