In 1513, Ponce de Leon sailed along our coast and named his latest discovery La Florida

Spanish soldiers re-enact cannon firing drills as they were done when Spain ruled St. Augustine

The influence of the Spanish architecture style is visible throughout St. Augustine

The City Gate that was once the only entrance to the historic city of St. Augustine

The historic Bridge of Lions basks in the glow of the sunset

Native American re-enactment at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park

Two Carrara marble Medici lion statues grace the west end of the Bridge of LIons

Take a carraige ride down Aviles Street

Take in the natural beauty of the North Beach dunes

St. Augustine's History Stays True to Its Roots

The Oldest City's Human History Remains Mostly Unchanged

St. Augustine has a unique distinction. Each day for nearly 450 years, people of European descent have met here to discuss the weather, admire the sunrise and work to the rhythm of palms swaying gently in the sea breeze. On most of those days, the evening has brought another spectacular sunset followed by a nightly parade of stars marching across the Southern heavens. In no other place in the United States has this daily routine been followed with such consistency for so long. No other city can come close to matching St. Augustine's status as the nation's oldest city.

Visitors to St. Augustine soon realize that this is indeed a different sort of city – a place where history is on every street corner and where the ancient buildings and narrow brick-paved streets create a ambiance that is more like Spain than the familiar feel of downtown America. In fact, there is so much history here that it's easy to get confused. Hopefully, this brief review of the illustrious story of this city will help put its history in perspective.

Of course, the human history of this special place by the sea begins long before the arrival of the Spanish. Archeological discoveries here indicate that Native Americans began enjoying the beauty of the area in about the year 1000. Known as the Timucua, these proud people were distinguished by their tall height, physical beauty and propensity for tattoos. They lived in an orderly society that benefited from hunting, fishing and small-scale farming. Although not generally considered to be "warlike," they were more than capable of holding their own against the fierce, warrior tribes located in South Florida.

The first documented encounter between that natives of the area and Europeans occurred in 1513 when Ponce de Leon sailed along the shore and named his latest discovery La Florida – because of the impressive display of wildflowers seen growing here. Experts continue to debate his exact landing spot, but somewhere in the general area the intrepid explorer came ashore and proclaimed La Florida to be a part of the Spanish Empire. The borders of this latest addition were extensive - encompassing most of what is now the eastern United States.