Saint Augustine, Florida, USA

Back to the Beginnings of Hispanic Florida

The Bridge of Lions
Bridge view
Casa Mónica, the House of Shadows
The Front of the Castle
Under the Ice Wind
Make-believe Commander
The Castle of San Marco
By Drawbridge
The Distillery
Palm Tree Bastion
Shadows to Defense
The cathedral
The Portico
Ponce Indica
The Flagler College
On the Windy High
The Flagler II College
The Confederate Manif
Tropical Time Tower
The Tropical Weather
The dissemination of tourist attractions of questionable taste becomes superficial if we take into account the historical depth in question. This is the longest inhabited city in the contiguous US. Ever since Spanish explorers founded it in 1565, St. Augustine resists almost anything.

North Florida welcomes us with a weather that is at odds with the one that attracts so many North American retirees to have homes there and spend their winters there.

A powerful cold front invades the subtropical south of the United States. It freezes you with a frigid wind that stirs the sea offshore, the Salt Run channel and the sea and river arms shared between the Atlantic and the Matanzas River.

It catches us by surprise and without matching clothes. We react with plans to stay hyperactive. From walking as much as possible, to discovering the city and its surroundings.

We quickly realized its enigmatic character, a mix between a grand historical legacy, an enchanting universe and a perennial Christmas fantasy.

We chose to enter St. Augustine, on foot, crossing its majestic drawbridge of the Lions.

As we do so, the wind lashes across the Matanzas' teal waters.

Generates surface turbulence that resembles rapids.

Above, flocks of brown pelicans are tormented by the force of the gusts that make the precise dives that keep them fed unfeasible.

We reached the middle of the bridge. A red traffic light, reinforced by an audible warning, prevents us from continuing.

The middle of the bridge rises to accommodate two fishing boats with tall masts. A gadelhudo cyclist is trapped in the same wait.

He dismounts from the bicycle and admires the passage of the trawlers.

The boats add up to the sides of the Tolomato River and the bar because that entire inland river system leaks into the ocean. The bridge goes down again.

Its top point gives us an approaching glimpse of old Saint Augustine.

On the tallest building in the city, former Treasury building and former Wells Fargo bank, now Treasury on the Plaza – cataloged by the Americans as a Mediterranean Revival style – and which serves as a screen for most of the houses.

Several towers flank it, some with conical roofs.

This unusual horizon takes the city back to somewhere between reality and fable.

The more we go through it, the more strange it is.

We arrive at the western end, where the bridge adjusts to the sea level to which St. Augustine.

Ponce de León, Pedro Menéndez de Aviléz and the Spanish Conquistadors of Florida

Nearby, a whole circle tropicalized by leafy palm trees and a projected statue of him pay homage to Juan Ponce de León, the Spanish conqueror.

Even if his pioneering spirit remains controversial, de León is considered the leader of the first expedition to the Florida region.

We approach the base of the almost skyscraper Treasury on the Plaza and a flag stars n' stripes that the wind keeps it rigid.

The imposing barrier of the building encourages us to head north, towards the historic district of the city.

St. Augustine was founded in 1565 by Pedro Menéndez de Aviléz. later appointed by King Philip II, Captain of the Fleet of the Indies.

By that time, the North American Atlantic coast was disputed between Spaniards, French and, soon, British and Dutch.

The Florida territory, in particular, was the subject of frequent battles with the French, apart from usual rivals, Huguenots and Lutherans whom the Spaniards considered despicable heretics.

French attacks from the neighboring Fort Caroline (built on the banks of the St. Johns River) and British privateers became a risk that Menéndez de Aviléz's successors were determined to avoid.

The Greed of Colonial Rivals and the Construction of Fort San Marcos

Accordingly, 107 years after its founding, Francisco de La Guerra, Menéndez de Aviléz's successor, decreed the reinforcement of its defense and the construction of the fortress we were about to encounter.

A little more than a meter above the flow of the Matanzas, a battery of cannons of increasing sizes precedes a hedge of palm trees, under one of the turrets of the castle of São Marcos.

The military engineer Ignacio Daza made it quadrangular, each edge with its prominent bastion, surrounded by a moat that only a drawbridge allows us to cross.

We went up to the fort's adarve.

From its top, we detect the curious anachronism of one of the US Rangers responsible for the National Monument, talking to an extra military commander from the colonial era.

When the time for the ensuing performance arrived, the creak leaves the table they shared. Add yourself to the castle corridors.

Sheltered from the cold with historical accuracy, the commander opens an explanatory speech that takes us and a few other spectators back to the time of the colonization of the Americas.

When the actor ends the performance, we take a peek at the last corners of the castle.

After that we moved to the newer and more contemporary area of ​​St. Augustine.

In the centuries following the completion of the Castle of São Marcos, the enemies found themselves in trouble to take it.

Often, frustrated, they favored the destruction of the city around them.

The British, in particular, who held most of what is now the United States to the north, including Georgia, were keen to leave it ablaze.

Saint Augustine and its Unusual Colonial Shuttle

In such a way that, in 1763, after two centuries as the capital of Spanish Florida, the Spaniards ended up giving in and passing it on to British rule.

After another twenty years, as a result of a military agreement, they returned it to its origins.

It was the year 1819, when the Spaniards ceded Florida to the newly emancipated USA. Saint Augustine was the capital of the state of Florida for just three years.

In 1824, the capital moved to Tallahassee.

The city lost its political prominence. She conquered several other attributes that keep her in stardom.

On the Wrong Side of the American Civil War

In 1840, St. Augustine had about 56.000 inhabitants, half of whom were slaves of African origin. On the scene of the American Civil War, Florida rejected the Union.

Aligned with slavery, it joined the Confederacy. At the end of the conflict, the Union took over the city.

Many of its landlords and slaves fled. St. Augustine saw already obvious social and economic predicaments aggravated.

Until he entered the providential Flagler Age.

Enter Saint Augustine and Henry Flagler Scene

We began to find out who Henry Flagler was at the door of the homonymous and magnanimous college. There we come across a small demonstration around the statue that honors him.

A group of men and women from the neo-Confederate movement, evokes HK Edgerton, an African-American, of the main defenders that the Confederates were not and are not racist and that, according to his words “there was a feeling of family that united the whites and blacks under slavery...

“A great love between the African who served in the lands of the South and his Master”.

Edgerton further argues that "slavery provided an institution of learning for blacks".

The question in question leaves us astonished.

As if that weren't enough, one of the protesters is African-American. He wears a Confederate uniform. He holds a Confederate flag.

The Rejuvenation of Saint Augustine

From the top of his pedestal, with his hand in his trouser pocket, a bronze Flagler looks down on everything.

Flagler – along with Rockefeler – was one of the co-founders of Standard Oil Company, an undertaking that made him a multimillionaire.

Now, in the winter of 1883, the tycoon visited St. Augustine, was enchanted by the city.

He planned to equip it with everything it needed to function as a winter shelter for wealthy Americans, eager to escape the cold.

Gradually, he connected it to the north and, later, to Palm Beach and Miami, via rail lines bundled into the Florida East Coast Railway.

Soon, he had two of his biggest hotels built in the city, the Ponce de León and the Alcazar, in Hispanic Revival and Moorish styles.

Your investment paid off in full. Americans on their way to south florida beaches started making a stopover in St. Augustine. Many have become accustomed to vacationing in the city.

Over time, the elegant Hotel Ponce de León lost its place in the increasingly competitive and modernized hotel market.

In 1968, the authorities transformed it into the college that we explore on a guided tour.

Two of its privileged young students lead a group of onlookers through the establishment's mystical, sometimes surreal nooks and crannies, hall after hall, from the library to the dining room, in an unusual domain of hocus pocus worthy of Harry Potter and company.

Around it, other buildings erected by Flagler, or purchased and converted by him – the Mónica, the Lightner Museum and, separately, the Cathedral Basilica.

All illuminated by a myriad of tiny lights, they reinforce St. Augustine.

Its grid of centuries-old streets is full of flags, banners and signs that, more than confirming its antiquity, impose the souvenirs, trinkets and snacks that renew the vigorous local economy.

They inhabit the supposedly oldest house in the village, large dolls in bonnets.

A pirate museum brings together the history of Caribbean piracy.

Rum, craft beer and chocolate tastings are promoted.

The alligator park appears side by side with the Lighthouse and the Maritime Museum. The old St. Augustine dazzles anyone who discovers her.

As long as you don't arrive in search of immaculate genuineness.

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The American Space Program Launch Pad

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Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique, Wildlife, lions
NP Gorongosa, Mozambique

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Aurora lights up the Pisang Valley, Nepal.
Annapurna (circuit)
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Architecture & Design
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Salto Angel, Rio that falls from the sky, Angel Falls, PN Canaima, Venezuela
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shadow of success
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Nigatsu Temple, Nara, Japan
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Singapore Asian Capital Food, Basmati Bismi

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MassKara Festival, Bacolod City, Philippines
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2000 meters in Aussie Style

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Train Fianarantsoa to Manakara, Malagasy TGV, locomotive
Fianarantsoa-Manakara, Madagascar

On board the Malagasy TGV

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Islamic silhouettes

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Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
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A Gray City but Little

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Stevenson's Treasure Island

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Winter White
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Cove, Big Sur, California, United States
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Aurora, Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo, Madeira Island, Portugal
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autumn in the caucasus

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Van at Jossingfjord, Magma Geopark, Norway
Natural Parks
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A Somehow Lunar Norway

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UNESCO World Heritage
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In elevator kimono, Osaka, Japan
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the projectionist
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The Nostalgic Projectionist

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Full Dog Mushing
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The Alaskan Dog Mushing Summer

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