ny visit to Florida will be greatly enhanced by a trip to venerable St Augustine, the oldest European settlement in the United States. Founded in 1565, (some 55 years before the Pilgims arrived) by Spanish explorer, Pedro Menendez de Aviles. Menendez found the harbor on the Matanzas River that led up to the Indian village of Seloy on September 4th and named the area after the Catholic patron saint, Saint Aug ustine.
The City soon became a center of Spanish control along the eastern
seaboard, but eventually went back and forth many times between Spanish
and English rule. Its colorful history includes episodes such as being
burned by Sir Francis Drake in 1586, and the building of the enormous
Fort Castillo de San Marcos in 1595. Another fort, Matanzas, was completed
in 1742. Both are open to the public.
There's a wonderful sense of antiquity to be found here, and there's naturally
lots to see and do. Fascinating walking tours of the Oldest City, led
by guides in period costume, take you down the narrow streets. In fact,
the whole downtown area, comprising 144 blocks, is a treasure trove of
beautifully preserved historical sites, tracing American history back
to its earliest days. Some of the most popular sites are:
sightseeing tours are also available on delightful open-air trolleys
or antique trains and horse-drawn carriages, and cruises are available
on scenic Matanzas Bay. There are 26 charming Victorian and Spanish-style
Bed and Breakfast inns, some centuries old, in St. Augustine, such as
the elegant Augustin Inn, and
the lovingly restored St. Francis
Inn. Click here to access our St.
Augustine Bed & Breakfast listings.
Of course, any mention of St. Augustine must include Ponce De Leon's quest for the "fountain of youth." This fascinating National Archeaological Park contains foundations and artifacts from the first St. Augustine mission and colony, the Landmark Spring, the Cross of Discovery, burial grounds of the first Christian Indians and a planetarium.
There are over 40 annual festivals and events, many featuring costumed historical re-enactments that are great fun to watch.
Finding St. Augustine
Living in St. Augustine
f you are thinking of re-locating to the area, there are numerous subdivisions, and condominiums in the area, along the St. Johns River, or the beaches -- Vilano Beach, and Crescent Beach. Two of the better known developments are Ponte Vedre, and the St. Johns Project.
One of the splendid things about living in St. Augustine is that although the area is small, there are no lack of amenities. You will never feel isolated in this relatively small community (only 100,000 people) with its 7 golf courses, 32 schools, 5 conference facilities, close proximity to 200 restaurants, 2 upscale large communities, several major corporations, a world-class historic district, and lots of cultural opportunities.