Castillo de San Marcos at sunrise
Castillo de San Marcos cannon firing
Taberna del Caballo
Bull and Crown Pub
Blacksmith demonstration in the Colonial Quarter
Delve Into History at St. Augustine's Colonial Quarter
St. Augustine is the crown jewel of Florida’s Historic Coast, and the Spanish Quarter has long been the centerpiece of this charming city’s historic attractions. Now, the Spanish Quarter, which focused on just one of St. Augustine’s historic periods, has been reborn.
The Colonial Quarter, has broadened its focus to include four eras of St. Augustine’s history: the 16th-century First City, the 17th-century Spanish Fortified Town, the 18th-century British 14th Colony and the 18th-century Spanish Garrison Town.
Visitors can take an immersive journey through centuries of St. Augustine's rich history. The revitalized two-acre attraction in the heart of St. Augustine’s downtown historic district is divided into four quadrants. Each one has interactive activities, living history demonstrations and graphical stories.
16th-Century Spanish First City
The focal point of this quadrant is the construction of a replica of a late-1500s Spanish ship, called a caravel. It’s the sort of sailing ship that would have been built during that time, with a shallow keel so it could maneuver through the harbor and lateen sails for speed. Signs show the plans for the 50-foot vessel, which will be perpetually under construction. A cutaway section gives visitors a glimpse into its construction.
Visitors can also examine a replica of an on-site archaeological discovery and dig in a nearby area in search of buried artifacts. Evidence suggests that an early fort that burned in the late 1600s might have been located on the site. A wooden boardwalk called Flags Over St. Augustine is decked with the flags that have flown over this waterfront city for hundreds of years, from the days of Juan Ponce de Leon to the present.
17th-Century Spanish Fortified Town
The next quadrant exemplifies a period in St. Augustine history when Spain staked its claim to the growing town. Visitors can climb 35 feet to the top of a 17th-century watchtower and peer out over Castillo de San Marcos and the water, looking for pirates and other ne’er-do-wells.
Back on the ground, kids especially may want to take part in a musket drill, learning to lock, load and fire a replica 17th-century firearm. The military gunsmith keeps busy maintaining and repairing all of the garrison’s weapons.
Clang! That sound can only mean that the blacksmith is nearby. Tools, cooking utensils and nails are among the items he creates out of old metal using his forge.
18th-Century Spanish Garrison Town
At this point in St. Augustine’s history, the city is under fire from the British. Visit an early 18th-century Soldier’s Home for a glimpse at what domestic life was like (the reconstructed house is built on the foundation of an original 18th-century residence).
In the one-room Leatherworker’s Shop, get hands-on – imprint a piece of leather with a metal stamp and create your own souvenir necklace or bracelet.
When energy flags and stomachs grumble, head to the Taberna del Caballo (Tavern of the Horse) for tapas and a cold beverage.
18th-Century British: The 14th Colony
St. Augustine under decades of British rule is the focus of the fourth quadrant. During the American Revolution, the British launched invasions from St. Augustine into rebellious Southern colonies.
Built in the 1740s, the carefully restored De Mesa-Sanchez house is a testament to historic preservation. In the East Florida Gazette Print Shoppe, visitors can don British Colonial garb and see a re-created 1770s printing press.
Wrap up your visit to the Colonial Quarter with a stop at the Bull & Crown Publick House for a drink and dinner, either in the atmospheric pub or on the open-air deck.