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Monday, May 8, 2017

St Augustine, FL - Oldest "European" City in the United States

What a historic city!  It is the oldest European city in the United States.  First settled by Spain in 1565, it preceded the Mayflower, Santa Maria and the Pinta by many years.  Never mind Leif Erikson and the 11th century.  What the heck, alternative facts have a long history too. Pedro Menendez’s ships first spotted land on August 28, 1565, the feast day of St Augustine of Hippo.  In honor of the patron saint of his home town of Aviles – he named this settlement St Augustine (OK – that’s a quick summary). 

We visited the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.  It’s a beautiful old masonry fort on the western shore of Matanzas Bay in St. Augustine. The fort is the oldest masonry fort in the continental US. They started construction of the fort in 1672 and finished it in 1695. It changed hands six times between Spain, England, the Confederate States of America and finally the United States of America.  It has an amazing history (from the sieges it withstood, troops it housed, and the Indians it imprisoned) and architecture – well worth the stop!

The Castillo is masonry star fort made with coquina, a stone that is
very effective at absorbing the impact of cannon balls. This helped
the fort withstand many sieges.  
What a view of Matanzas Bay from the top of the fort! 

The fort had its share of cannons and mortar, protecting it from
both land and sea invasions.

What fun! The ranger is teaching the kids to shoot a cannon.
Now that would have made history class much more memorable! 

A great view down to the courtyard below. Town residents
would live in the courtyard during a siege.

Beware just in case that mortar is loaded (or a
bird has made its nest)!

The only way in and out of the fort was using the
drawbridge over the moat.

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