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Visit Florida: Saint Augustine: Miami Tours and Sightseeing

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Visit Florida | Saint Augustine| Miami Tours

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St. Augustine was established on September 8, 1565, by Spanish admiralty Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, Florida's original governor. He called the settlement "San Agustín", as his ships bearing pioneers, troops, and stocks from Spain had originally sighted land in Florida eleven days prior on August 28, now the feast day of St. Augustine.

The history of St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest continuously conquered settlement of European ancestry in the United States, started in 1565 when it was established by the Spanish admiral, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés. The Spanish Crown declared an asiento to Menéndez, endorsed by King Philip II on March 20, 1565, awarding him various titles, including that of adelantado of Florida, and extensive privileges to utilize the lands in the large territory of Spanish Florida called La Florida by the Spaniards. This agreement instructed Menéndez to traverse the region's Atlantic coast and record on its features, with the purpose of finding a proper location to place a robust colony from which the Spanish riches fleet could be protected and Spain's declared territories in North America guarded against incursions by other European rivals.

St. Augustine was meant to be a basis for additional colonial expansion across what is presently the southeastern United States, but such attempts were hindered by indifference and enmity on the part of the Native Americans towards becoming Spanish subjects. The Saturiwa, one of the two principal chiefdoms in the area, remained openly hostile.[29] In 1566, the Saturiwa burned St. Augustine and the settlement were relocated. Traditionally it was believed to have been relocated to its present location, though some documentary proof infers it was originally moved to a location on Anastasia Island. At any rate, it was certainly in its present location by the end of the 16th century.

The new permanent settlement also faced aggression from European forces. In April 1568 the French fighter Dominique de Gourgues directed an attack on Spanish soldiers. With the aid of the Saturiwa, Tacatacuru, and other Timucua tribes who had been helpful to Laudonnière, de Gourgues raped and torched Fort San Mateo, the then Fort Caroline. He killed his prisoners in retaliation for the 1565 slaughter yet did not accost St. Augustine. Supplementary French expeditions were essentially raids and could not uproot the Spanish from St. Augustine. After the collapse of the Roanoke settlement in Virginia, where no survivors were found by a delayed equipment expedition, the English accused the Spaniards of St. Augustine for its demise. Consequently, on June 6, 1586, English buccaneer Sir Francis Drake sacked St. Augustine, torching to the ground and expulsing the last of the Spanish pilgrims into the wilderness. Nonetheless, lacking sufficient forces or permission to establish an English town, Drake abandoned the area.

In 1668, English corsair Robert Searle assaulted and looted St. Augustine. In the aftereffect of his foray, the Spanish began in 1672 to build a more solid fortification, the Castillo de San Marcos. It stands now as the oldest fortress in the continental United States. Its completion lasted a quarter of a century, with various subsequent enhancements and alterations.

The Spanish, however, did not introduce countless slaves to Florida for toil, since it was principally a militant vanguard lacking a plantation market unlike that of other British colonies. As the British colonized settlements southward on the Atlantic coast, the Spanish encouraged their slaves to escape for refuge in Florida. If the refugees converted to Catholicism and declared allegiance to the king of Spain, they would be given liberty, arms, and stores. Running southward on the coast from the northern colonies, the British established Charleston in 1670 as well as Savannah in 1733. In reply, Spanish Governor Manual de Montiano in 1738 established the initial legally acknowledged free community of ex-slaves, recognized as Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, or Fort Mose, to serve as a protective outstation two miles north of St. Augustine.

In 1740, British forces sacked St. Augustine from their colonies in the Carolinas and Georgia. The largest and most favorable of these assaults were directed by Governor and General James Oglethorpe of Georgia; he divided the Spanish-Seminole union when he obtained the help of Ahaya the Cowkeeper, chief of the Alachua of the Seminole tribe. The Seminole then seized area principally in the north of Florida but subsequently immigrated to the middle and south of the peninsula.

Castillo San Marcos | Miami Tours

Visit Florida Saint Augustine San Marcos Miami Tours

The Castillo de San Marcos is unparalleled in North American architecture. It is the only extant 17th-century military structure in the United States and the oldest masonry fortification in the country, it is an excellent example of the "bastion system" of defense fortification, the summit of centuries of military fortification engineering.

Additionally, it is also novel for the rock used in its construction. The Castillo San Marcos is one the only castles in the world built out of limestone, also known as coquina. Interestingly enough, while the Spanish were originally leery of using the limestone as it is not particularly hard, the limestone porous and absorptiveness qualities practically made the fortress indestructible as when shot at by cannon balls, would simply be absorbed and stick into the wall without shattering the walls!

Its unique star-shaped design adds yet another layer of protection to the castle. While it is true that the fortress has flown not only the Spanish flag but also the French and English, the fort remains to date undefeated! 

Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine | Miami Tours

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The Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine is the oldest parish of a permanent European settlement on the North American continent north of Mexico. It was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark on April 15, 1970.


The Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine is the earliest parish of a continual European settlement in North America. It was assigned a U.S. National Landmark on April 15, 1970.

The last rebuilding of the basilica incorporated a plan for building materials that was notably innovative. Since fire had proved to be a problem in the past, the concept arose to use a nonflammable matter, and with a fairly prudish budget joined with constraints of transportation, a resolution was not so obvious. In the end, however, presumably, due to Amerindian production expertise, coquina stone was applied for the exterior walls. The excellent character of this material comes a sedimentary rock, formed essentially from the breakdown of seashells. As St. Augustine is near the shoreline, the stone could be procured with minimal distance to travel. 


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