On our way to Orlando, we stopped overnight in St. Augustine. Oh, how I wish we could have stayed the whole week! We took a horse drawn carriage ride through the old city soaking up the wealth of historical knowledge our guide was sharing with us. At the end of the ride, my sons knew exactly where they wanted to start out their morning……the Fort! they woke up bright and early so they could be the first ones in the Fort when it opened!
St. Augustine was first explored and claimed for Spain by Ponce de Leon. The city was founded in 1565 and is the oldest continuously occupied European city in the United States. In 1672, construction was started on the Castillo de San Marcos, more commonly known as “The Fort”.
The walls were made from coquina, which is millions of ancient shells that compressed together over the years to form a type of stone. Coquina is an absorbent material, so when cannons were fired at the walls, damage was minimal. You can see all of the tiny shells that make up the layers of coquina in this image.
During attacks, the entire population of St. Augustine would fill the Fort along with the soldiers and stay until it was safe again. The boys may have missed a couple of days of school for this trip, but the hands on history lessons they learned were priceless. They were able to go into the living quarters, chapel, artillery bunker, prisoners quarters, on the top wall and many other rooms. I am so glad we decided to stop here! The view from the very top of the Fort is absolutely beautiful!
After the Fort, we were off to take pictures of the wonderful architecture in the city. All of the buildings were impressive, but the churches really caught my eye. The first one we came to was Grace United Methodist Church, founded in 1881.
Just around the corner was the Memorial Presbyterian Church, founded in 1824. Henry Flagler gave this sanctuary as a memorial to his only daughter, who passed away while giving birth. Henry, his wife, his daughter and granddaughter are all in a Mausoleum in the church.
A few blocks away is the Motherhouse Sisters of Saint Joseph, established in 1874 by eight Sisters who came from France to educate the recently freed slaves. The convent currently houses retired Sisters.
On our way out of town, we stopped at the Lighthouse. I can’t wait to go back to St. Augustine! It is a Photographer and History Buff’s paradise! The best part was watching my sons eagerly soak up all of the history and beauty around them!