The city of St. Augustine Florida is the first permanent European settlement in the continental United States. St. Augustine was established in 1565 and has been continually occupied ever since. The area around St.Augustine was first explored by Ponce de Leon and was claimed for the Spanish crown. The Florida peninsula had previous Spanish settlements but due to problems that existed for the earlier settlers these settlements had failed. The first French settlement of Florida was attempted by Jean Ribault and Gaspar de Coligny. The early French explorers took a group of Huguenots (French Protestants) of about 150 people and in February of 1562 and eventually establish small settlements. The first was established on the St. Johns River, called Port Royale Sound and the second on Paris Island, now, South Carolina.
The Spanish felt that French settlement in a Spanish area of influence was unacceptable and decided to take action. A Spanish force from Cuba was put together under the command of Hernando de Rojas and ordered to attack the French. De Rojas destroyed and took captive the settlers and their leader. The French refortified the area and brought in new settlers and soldiers. When these new settlers began to attack back at the Spanish settlements and shipping, the Spanish crown decided to wipe them out. On August 28, 1565 The Spanish force under Pedro Aviles attacked the settlement using seaborne bombardment followed up by a sudden attack. The French were overwhelmed and beaten. The fortification was destroyed and the settlers scattered. Aviles rebuilt the settlement and renamed it St.Augustine names after Agustin of Hippo, the patron saint of Aviles, his name and hometown.
The French organized a force to retake the area but the fleet was mostly destroyed by storm. The Spanish under Aviles launched a surprise attack on the French and killed all the settlers and soldiers. The men, women, and children were slaughtered. Women and that had previously escaped and hid were captured and all were burned at the stake as heretics. The survivors of these atrocities and those of the shattered French fleet were reorganized by Ribualt. Aviles found the remaining few hundred French women and children with the remnants of the fleet. He demanded their surrender. Ribault complied and he and his wards were likewise burned. The catholic king of Spain and the catholic king of France then came to an agreement that there would be no further French colonization on the southern coastal areas of the new world.
The area became the home of the first recorded births of Europeans on the new continent, although there were earlier un-recorded births on the continental United States. St.Augustine would be conquered and reconquered over the years and in each case the innocent were slaughtered in the name of the same Christian God.
In 1821 Florida was ceded to the United States. The area had for hundreds of years been a refuge for ex-slaves and Native Americans and was used as a staging area to attack into America. President Jackson came in with troops and had this stopped. The Confederates captured the union garrison of one soldier and in turn loyal union troops retook the area and it stayed a fort until 1900, over two hundred years. Today the area is a popular tourist attraction. The city architecture of mostly Spanish Colonial buildings is vigorously maintained and encouraged. Here you will also find the Fountain of Youth and the end of the Old Spanish Trail from San Diego to St. Augustine established in 1921.
St. Augustine has many modern highways bridges airport bus and railway services, but none of these infringe on the Old City. Tourist attractions and fine dining abound here and some like the Minorcan cuisine and culture can be found nowhere else and are unique to this area alone. Whether planning a wedding, honeymoon or fun St. Augustine, ghosts and all is fantastic!