my trip to St Augustine Florida

My Trip to
St. Augustine Florida

St. Augustine Florida really is an amazing town. It will take you a couple of days to see everything there, and every time you go back you'll find something you missed the last trip

I don't normally like to do a lot of guided tours, but St. Augusine was different. There are so many historical places to visit, taking some of the guided tours of the town is a good idea. They have a system of tourist busses, you pay one fee and get on and off when ever and where ever you want. The busses run constantly through the day and go to all the interesting places. You can also take a horse and carriage ride through the streets of St. Augustine.

There is a large Ripley museum on the north end of town along Route 1, but I find those kind of places are pretty much the same where ever you go. The Ponce de Leon Fountain of Youth, is very touristy... drive by and take a look but save your money and spend your time looking at other things like the beautiful old churches, the city gates, the lighthouse, or the Castillo de San Marcos.
  If you are a fan of ghost stories, take one of the nightly ghost tours through the old section of town. There are several and cover many old homes and buildings.

Even if you don't take a tour, go by the old Tolomato cemetery. It's closed to the public (because of the ghosts in there?) but you can walk by the fence and look in. It is one seriously creepy place.

I was there in the daytime, and did not know the history of the cemetery... and while I was standing at the fence, I started to feel like I really wanted to run away from there. Later, I read the history and legends about Tolomato. Click the link below for my page on the Tolomato cemetary, for more information and pictures.

The historic Bridge of Lions spans Matanzas Bay to Anastasia Island. I stayed in a lovely small hotel on Anastasia Island. Be sure to see the lighthouse and alligator farm and all the quaint little shops on the Island. There's so much to see and do in St. Augustine, plan on spending several days there.
Click on a picture in my album on the right, or click one of the text links below to find all the pictures and comments about my St. Augustine Vacation.

My St. Augustine Vacation Trip Pictures
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument Click Here
St. Augustine Light House Anastasia Island Click Here
Buildings and Landmarks around St. Augustine Click Here
The Tolomato Cemetery Click Here
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St. Augustine History
The mainland of the North American continent was first sighted by the Spanish explorer and treasure hunter Don Juan Ponce de Leon on 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, King Phillip 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 from 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.

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.

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.

In 1586, Sir Francis Drake attacked and burned the town. Then in 1668, the pirate Captain John Davis plundered the town, killing sixty inhabitants. Without the courage, perseverance and faith of its early settlers it is doubtful that St. Augustine would have survived.

Finally, after the British established colonies in Georgia and the Carolinas, Spain authorized the building of a stone fort to protect St. Augustine as assaults from the north became more frequent. The Castillo de San Marcos took twenty-three years to build but, once in place, stood as the town's stalwart defender. Major attacks were made against her in 1702 by Governor James Moore of South Carolina and in 1740 by General James Oglethorpe of Georgia. Neither seige was successful, however, and to this day, the fort has never fallen to enemy attack.

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. On July 10, 1821, US troops took possession of the territory and Spain relinquished control of Florida forever.

Soon after the American occupation, St. Augustine suffered a series of setbacks. In 1821, a yellow fever epidemic brought death to many newcomers. Also, uprisings by the Seminole Indians culminated in the Seminole War of 1836, which called a halt to development of St. Augustine's economy.

In 1845, Florida became the twenty-seventh state admitted to the Union. The Castillo de San Marcos was renamed Fort Marion in honor of a Revolutionary War hero, and the capital of East Florida was moved from St. Augustine to become part of the state capital in the new town of Tallahassee.

The town had finally begun to prosper when the American Civil War broke out in 1861. Although Florida had seceded with the rest of the Confederacy, St. Augustine was occupied by Union troops throughout most of the conflict. When the war ended in 1865, the town was three centuries old. The war's end brought speculators and land developers to Florida along with the beginnings of the visitor industry.

In the 1880's, the sleepy old Spanish town began to bustle with the arrival of Henry M. Flagler, who developed the town as a major resort for the leisure traveler. It was during the Flagler era that the minds of St. Augustine residents turned to the leisure life. North Beach and Anastasia Island were explored and quickly became popular destinations. The St. Augustine Golf Club operated a golf course on the grounds of the fort, and buses transported guests from the Hotel Ponce de Leon to another golf course north of town. Yacht racing became another popular winter pastime. Flagler's vision would forever change the face of St. Augustine, but natural disaster also altered the town's appearance. In 1887 and 1914, fires wiped out many historic buildings between the plaza and the north city gates.

Beginning in 1959, and continuing today, the state has an ongoing preservation effort, meticulously restoring many colonial structures to their original appearance, and historic St. Augustine has become a center of colonial Spanish culture and an important destination for travelers from all parts of the world.

My St. Augustine Vacation Trip Pictures
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument Click Here
St. Augustine Light House Click Here
Buildings and Landmarks around St. Augustine Click Here
The Tolomato Cemetery Click Here

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