Thursday, January 29, 2015

January 30, 2015

Castillo de San Marcos

Though the Castillo was originally built in the 1670s-1690s, it’s been renovated many times throughout its long and impressive history. The plaza de armas (courtyard) and rooms as they appear today were rebuilt in the mid-1700s. At one time the rooms were much larger and the courtyard much smaller. Shown here is the north wall. The chapel, which was the center of Spanish life at the fort, is marked by a fancy fa├žade that dates from about the 1790s. To see rooms that remain relatively untouched from the late 1600s, check out the artilleryman’s quarters (the room shown here on the east wall, far right). These three inner rooms were sealed up throughout much of the 1700s and 1800s due to being too damp for gunpowder, and were not renovated when the rest of the Castillo was given a major overhaul.

Colonial Quarter

This relatively new attraction, sprawling along the pedestrian paradise of St. George Street, offers history-lovers something special: a chance to walk through St. Augustine era by era and see how things really were for our colonial ancestors. One of the best parts of this walk (at least in my opinion) is that admission to the old De Mesa-Sanchez House (seen above) is included in the ticket price. The lower level of this home was constructed in the early 1700s, while the top level was added sometime later. The separate kitchen and outdoor stair are newer additions. All in all, the house was finished around the 1830s, the time period the home now represents.

(c) 2015 St Augustine Fridays

Thursday, January 22, 2015

January 23, 2015

Mission Nombre de Dios

This peaceful, historic religious haven is a wonderful respite from the business of everyday Saint Augustine. Whether or not you follow a different faith than Catholicism, or none at all, you should definitely find yourself feeling relaxed and peaceful on a stroll through these beautiful grounds. Not only do the Mission grounds host a picturesque little chapel that creates some great photo opportunities, but it’s also a cemetery of sorts . . . history lovers might be interested in researching the names found on the weathered old stones. On this photo you can see the bridge over the Lagoon, a proliferation of Florida palms, and the Prince of Peace Church at left.

St. George Street

This is where history meets tourism, in a good way. Granted, the real die-hard history enthusiasts probably won’t find much of value here aside from the grand old 18TH- and 19TH century homes and their inviting second-story balconies, but if you just want to shop, eat, and enjoy the Florida air, this place is definitely for you. The white building seen at left is part of Colonial Quarter (another attraction you should check out), and the stone building to the right is a chocolate-lover’s paradise. This is the Whetstone’s Chocolates factory outlet store. Just through that door to the right of the Whetstone’s sign is a little alcove that leads to Spanish Bakery. One of my best Florida dining memories is buying a few empanadas and an ice-cold can of Coke, and sitting at those cheery red tables underneath a bower of old shade trees. 

(c) 2015 St Augustine Fridays

Thursday, January 15, 2015

January 16, 2015

** I’m starting my new blog venture in the hopes of conveying St. Augustine, Florida's charm and appeal through personal photos. I'll post every Friday (barring travel or other "bumps in the road"). Enjoy! **

So why is St. Augustine so important to me? It's my favorite place I've ever visited. It's such an amazing, historic city, full of so many different vibes . . . Native American, Spanish colonial, American pioneer, modern Florida tourist. You can find anything you're looking for; whatever your interests, this colorful town is bursting with character.
Interested in history? Take your pick … Native American, age of the conquistadors, Spanish colonial, African-American, 18TH century British, Civil War, Victorian grandeur, it’s all there. In one day you can tour a Spanish fortress built during the age of piracy, climb a beautiful lighthouse, visit an alligator farm, shop for everything from tiny ships made of seashells to expensive art pieces, and see the site of an important 16TH century massacre which was perhaps the first religious martyrdom in what would become these United States. And that’s only a drop in the bucket.
These are all personal photos taken between 2005 and 2014. Since I’m choosing a photo blog as my means of sharing St. Augustine with everyone who may stop by, my posts won’t be heavy on text, but I hope the photos will convey the colorful hodge-podge that is St. Augustine without the need for an overabundance of words.

 Now on to the photos!
Castillo de San Marcos

Begun in 1672 and finished in 1695, this old Spanish fortress dates from the age of piracy, an era of heavy colonization, religious persecution, and royal intrigue. Seen here is St. Augustine’s Bastion (each of the four watchtowers is named for an influential saint) which overlooks Matanzas Bay. These walls were originally lower, but due to the threat of pirate attacks and British sieges (the Castillo did, in fact, weather two sieges, in 1702 and 1740) they were raised and strengthened throughout the mid-1700s. At right, the Shot Furnace, once used to lob fiery cannonballs at unsuspecting wooden ships in the bay, sits neglected. Note the white paint still clinging to the walls; the Castillo was originally coated with lime-wash, and in its heyday the fortress with bright white with red towers. Imagine how impressive it must have appeared.

 Fountain of Youth

Folks who visit the Fountain of Youth Archaeological with visions of Disney-like animatronics will be sadly disappointed, and those who go for the famous “fountain” itself will probably go away disgruntled. Still, if you visit the Fountain and enjoy it for what it is, not for the entertainment, not for the “youth water”, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Those things are only secondary. The real draw of the park is its natural Florida beauty . . . those looking for Spanish moss, towering palms, and majestic marshland will definitely get their fill. Add in colorful peacocks and gentle Spanish music, a cannon-firing demonstration if you’re lucky, and some fascinating archaeological sites, and you’ll definitely find yourself describing the Fountain of Youth as a favorite attraction.

(c) 2015 – St. Augustine Fridays