the wandering chick
...St. Augustine
America's oldest city

St. Augustine was our first substantial stop, and we realized immediately we hadn't allowed enough time for this trip. The city deserves more days than we were able to give it, but we went away with an appreciation of its history.

Perhaps it's Ponce de Leon who comes to mind when one thinks of St. Augustine. Even though he may be given credit for finding and naming the state of Florida, the city of St. Augustine itself wasn't founded until 1565 by Pedro Menendez de Aviles. It remained under Spanish rule, despite several battles for the land with England, until 1819 when all of Florida was handed over to the U.S.

During those early centuries, Spain fortified the town with the still-standing Castillo de San Marcos, today a major tourist attraction and a national monument.

Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth grew to become another main attraction and is located inside the Fountain of Youth Archeological Park.

Among many other highlights of St. Augustine are Flagler College, St. George Street, the U.S.' oldest wooden schoolhouse and the St. Augustine lighthouse.

Spanish Moss trees
Outside the Fountain of Youth Archeological Park is this street lined with beautiful old trees covered in Spanish Moss, also known as "Old Man's Beard."
old trees
entrace to Fountain of Youth Park
chick peacock
Hey, little buddy, some day you may have those pretty feathers, too!
albino peacock
male peacock closeup
A muster of peacocks and peahens graces the grounds of the Fountain of Youth Park. We were lucky to see some baby chicks and white peacocks as well.
fountain of youth spring
Here lies the spring founded by Juan Ponce de Leon, now enclosed for protection. It's located on the grounds of the Fountain of Youth Archeological Park, along with several other major historic features.
monument to Ponce de Leon
A memorial to Ponce de Leon is located on the grounds of the park.
cemetery tombstone
cemetery tombstones
The first burials in this Protestant cemetery occured in 1821, just prior to a yellow fever epidemic that swept the town.
archeological park grounds
first mission
clay water pot
Called the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche, this area on the grounds of the Mission Nombre de Dios is considered by many to be "America's Most Sacred Acre," and where Christianity took root.
steel cross
These huge clay pots were used by the early Spainards to collect rain water. They were buried halfway underground to keep the water cool. Each pot weighs 800 pounds and is 300 years old. They can be found scattered about the grounds of the Ponce de Leon Archeological Park.
Made of stainless teel and rising 208 feet, this cross marks the spot where in 1565 Pedro Menéndez de Avilés placed a small wooden cross signifying the beginning of Christianity in America. Today's towering structure stands on the grounds of the Mission Nombre de Dios.
Castillo de San Marcos
Castillo de San Marcos
Castillo de San Marcos
Castillo de San Marcos
The Castillo de San Marcos is considered the first masonry structurc in the United States. It was built in the years 1672 through 1695 by the Spainards. It was used by the British when they had control of St. Augustine and named Fort St. Mark. And then when the U.S. Army gained possession after 1821 it came known as Fort Marion. It was deactivated in 1933 and turned over to the National Park Service. who has named it the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. It is a popular attraction to visitors of St. Augustine's historical district.
the Bridge of Lions
Castillo de San Marcos
Castillo de San Marcos
the Bridge of Lions
the Bridge of Lions is a drawbridge that connects St. Augustine city to Anastasia Island. It crosses the Matanzas Bay.
Flagler College
Flagler College
One of the most impressive buildings in St. Augustine Old Town was originally the Ponce de Leon Hotel, built in 1888 by oil magnate and industrialist Henry Flagler. Today it is Flager College, a private liberal arts college.
Flagler College
the Basilica Cathedral
Flagler College
St. George Street
St. George Street, in Old Town, is a pedestrian street lined with boutiques, shops and eateries.
The Cathedral Basilica of St Augustine was built in the late 1700s and is a National Historic Landmark. It is the oldest church in Florida.
Aviles Street
Basilica Cathedral
A smaller and less crowded shopping and restaurant street than St. Geroge is Aviles, said to be the oldest public street in the United States.
Aviles Street
oldest wooden schoolhouse
The oldest wooden schoolhouse is located on St. George Street. The date it was built is unknown, but tax records date it back to 1716. It is held in place by anchor and a chain that completely encircles it to prevent being blown away by hurricane winds. It is made of bald cypress and cedar.
Aviles Street
oldest wooden schoolhouse
Columbia Restaurant dining room
The Columbia Restaurant has been in business by the same family for five generations. There are six restaurants throughout Florida. We chose this one because to eat at because, being a Spanish restaurant, we were able to get paella, something I've not had since leaving Europe. It is Florida's oldest restaurant.
The St. Augustine Light Station, active today, was built in 1874 on the north shore of Anastasia Island. Two hundred nineteen (219) stairs will get you to the top where 360 degrees of fantastic panoramic views will reward you.
views from lighthouse
view from lighthouse
lighthouse and me in mirror
The lighthouse, in this direction, overlooks Matanzas Bay separated by a strip of land on which lie the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean.
I'm not one to take selfies, but what could I do? I couldn't resist this shot of the lighthouse...I just happened to be in the way!!!
bougainvillea tree
We were concerned about this gopher tortoise on Crescent Beach being out of place and in danger, but after flagging down beach patrol, we were assured he was probably just out for a bath in the ocean. Let's hope!!
A bougainvillea tree near St. George Street

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