The mainland of the North American continent was first sighted by the Spanish explorer and treasure hunter Don Juan Ponce de Leon on Easter, March 27, 1513. He claimed the land for Spain and named it La Florida, meaning "Land of Flowers". Between 1513 and 1563 the government of Spain launched six expeditions to settle Florida, but all failed. the French succeeded in establishing a fort and colony on the St. Johns River in 1564 and, in doing so, threatened Spain's treasure fleets which sailed along Florida's shoreline returning to Spain. As a result of this incursion into Florida, King Phillip the II named Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles, Spain's most experienced admiral, as governor of Florida, instructing him to explore and to colonize the territory. Menendez was also instructed to drive out any pirates or settlers of other nations, should they be found there.
When Menendez arrived off the coast of Florida, it was August 28, 1565, the Feast Day of St. Augustine. Eleven days later, he and his 600 soldiers and settlers came ashore at the site of the Timucuan Indian village of Seloy with banners flying and trumpets sounding. He hastily fortified the fledgling village and named it St. Augustine.
Utilizing brilliant military maneuvers, Menendez destroyed the French garrison on the St. Johns River and, with the help of a hurricane, also defeated the French fleet. With the coast of Florida firmly in Spanish hands, he then set to work building the town, establishing missions to the Indians for the Church, and exploring the land.
Thus, St. Augustine was founded forty-two years before the English colony at Jamestown, Virginia, and fifty-five years before the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts - making it the oldest permanent European settlement on the North American continent.
It was not until 1763 that Spain ceded Florida to England in order to regain the capital of Cuba, ushering in twenty years of British rule in Florida. This period coincided with the American Revolution, during which Florida remained loyal to the Crown. In 1783, under the Treaty of Paris, Florida was returned to Spanish rule for a period of thirty-seven years. The Spanish departed for the last time when Spain sold Florida to the United States of America. At a colorful military ceremony on July 10, 1821, US troops took possession of the territory and Spain relinquished control of Florida forever.
Cathedral of St. Augustine
"The Love Tree" - This tree is named such, because you have a palm
tree going out of an oak tree
In 1882, Henry Flagler, New York entrepreneur and cofounder of Standard Oil, became interested in the historic city of St. Augustine and its potential as a winter resort. Flagler's subsequent development of transportation and resort facilities in St. Augustine and along the east coast of Florida spurred rapid development in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A focal point of this development was Flagler's Hotel Ponce de León. Flagler chose the Spanish Renaissance Revival style so that the hotel's design would compliment its historic surroundings. Retained to decorate the interior of the hotel, Louis C. Tiffany used stained glass, mosaics and terra cotta relief on the walls and ceilings and commissioned several grand murals. The hotel was the first large scale building constructed entirely of poured concrete. The popularity of "the Ponce" and its style strongly influenced the architecture of southern Florida for the next fifty years. The success of the Hotel Ponce de Leon was short-lived, however, as a series of weather related disasters struck Florida's coast in the 1890s. The Great Depression and World War II forced the closing of the hotel. In 1967 the hotel was sold to Flagler College. It has been renovated and retains most of its original integrity.
The Lightner Museum, formerly Alcazar Hotel, also built by Henry Flagler.
For more pictures, follow the links below:
Fort Castillo de San Marco
The Old Jail House