Look Up at the Great Cross of St. Augustine

It Marks the Founding of America's Oldest City

Its view overlooking the ocean and centuries-old town nearby is unrivaled. It reaches 280-feet skyward as a symbol of history, tradition and spiritual power. It is the Great Cross of St. Augustine.

In 1565, a Spanish admiral named Pedro Menendez de Aviles landed along the shoreline where the Great Cross stands today. After sending soldiers to fortify the area, Menendez himself came ashore, planted a wooden cross and celebrated the first actual Thanksgiving on American soil. And it was there he would establish a city, thriving still today, that we call St. Augustine.

When the Great Cross was erected in 1965, coinciding with St. Augustine's 400th Anniversary, it was built to last. Assembled from concrete, stainless steel panels and inscribed granite slabs, the structure weighed in at 70 tons. Such stalwart construction was required both because of its height and the region's tropical weather.

For those of faith, the Great Cross represents Christianity's beginnings in America. For history buffs, it marks the founding of America's oldest city. And for all of us, it towers overhead as the tallest freestanding cross in the Western Hemisphere.

So, on your next visit to Florida's Historic Coast, glance eastward to the coast and look for a gold cross rising above the tree line. Then head to the foot of the Great Cross, and imagine the scene of Menendez's landing. It's just one more reason why our history is not the same old story.