Thursday, October 29, 2015

October 29, 2015

St. Augustine Lighthouse

 If you stand in a little parking lot across from the St. Augustine Lighthouse and aim up through the palms, you can grab this framed view that I particularly like. The lighthouse’s pattern and color scheme, a pop of red above the mundane black and white, makes it particularly photogenic. Hard to imagine it’s been standing for 144 years. Think of it . . . just six years after the end of the Civil War, when men wore cravats and bowlers on their daily strolls and women sashayed about in bustles, this beautiful piece of architecture came into being.

Colonial Quarter

I may have mentioned that Colonial Quarter is one of my favorite attractions, easily accessed by St. George Street and well worth a visit. This view shows the “17TH Century Spanish Fortified Town”, giving a glimpse of life in “San Agustín” in the pirate-infested 1600s. I don’t imagine the town was a very nice place back then . . . pirates weren’t the only worry, with storms, floods, epidemics, British settlers from up north, and hostile Indians being added to the list. And if you weren’t Spanish and Catholic, you might as well move on (or perhaps run for your life if circumstances so dictated). I love these glimpses into history. I’m sure glad I can visit from the comfort of the 21ST century, though . . . and that I won’t face a mob of angry townsfolk when I wear my Huguenot cross :-)

(c) 2015 St. Augustine Fridays

Thursday, October 22, 2015

October 23, 2015

Castillo de San Marcos

Here’s an interesting tidbit: All of the bastions at the Castillo are named for saints (Agustín, Carlos, Pablo, and Pedro) and the largest tower, used as a bell-tower in days of yore, has its own separate name. It’s called San Marcos. Originally the same height as the other three towers, and built in the 1670s/80s with the rest of the Castillo, San Marcos tower was rebuilt at a taller height and finished before the siege of St. Augustine in June 1740. The coquina facing looks pretty good for being 275 years old!

Fountain of Youth

Like the Three Stooges? Love peacocks? Then this photo is for you! Some of the best things about the Fountain of Youth Park are these guys, wandering around at will and spreading joy with their beautiful plumage and soulful cries. Here, they’re apparently congregating outside the restrooms on a cool and rainy morning. The two to the left are preening --- “take my picture! Take my picture!” while the guy on the right says “yeah, I don’t think so.”

(c) 2015 St. Augustine Fridays

Thursday, October 15, 2015

October 16, 2015

Mission Nombre de Dios

You can tell just by looking at this photo that the La Leche shrine at Nombre de Dios is a peaceful place. The doors are always open, and even if you’re not a spiritual person, you can still appreciate the simple beauty found within. Take some time to read the historical plaques located on the outside of the building. Though there’s been a chapel at this spot since the 1600s, the current building dates from about 1914, and was constructed to resemble the Spanish missions of yore.

St. George Street

St. Augustine has countless photo ops; you only need to look. Here’s a view of some reconstructed 18th century outbuildings seen from inside the centuries-old De Mesa-Sanchez House. (I can’t recommend this house enough. Few people, beautiful furnishings, peaceful setting, centuries of history. And possibly haunted . . .). 

(c) 2015 St. Augustine Fridays

Thursday, October 8, 2015

October 09, 2015

Washington Oaks State Gardens

Very near St. Augustine is the town of Palm Coast, and in and around this place you’ll find some pretty interesting sights. One of these is Washington Oaks State Gardens --- and its beautiful, relatively untouched beach just across the road. It’s hard to imagine that the site of the Matanzas massacres in September and October of 1565 may have taken place just about 2 ½ miles from this spot. (If you’ve visited my memorial page, Martyrs of Matanzas, which can be reached from this blog, you’ll know why this subject is so dear to my heart).
With the passage of time, it has become easier and easier to forget these tragic events, and there have even been some who have justified the slaughters. Others believe that the reason for these men’s deaths had nothing to do with religion, thus unjustly stripping them of their much-deserved honor. To put this false notion to rest, I’ve included the actual words of Spanish eyewitnesses, first Fr. Gonzalo Solís de Merás, who in his narrative says, “He asked if they were Catholics or Lutherans, or if any of them desired to make confession.” He later states that “The Adelantado then ordered all to be killed, and in the same order and at the same mark, as had been done to the others. He spared only the fifers, drummers, and trumpeters, and four others who said that they were Catholics.”

 Fr. Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales writes that “all the others were executed, because they were Lutherans and enemies of our Holy Catholic faith.” The first of these massacres took place on September 29, 1565, while the second occurred on October 12th. It’s the second of these, where the Huguenot captain Jean Ribault was murdered with the rest of his soldiers, which prompted me to dedicate this post to their suffering. (If you want to read more eyewitness accounts, check out my blog,, or, if you like, engage in further research to flesh out this sad and fascinating story).
Now, for lighter fare:

Castillo de San Marcos

Who doesn’t love a 343-year-old Spanish fortress? And you don’t even have to travel to Spain; just take a spin around St. Augustine! The Castillo de San Marcos is, I admit, like my second home. Seriously. I would sleep there if I was allowed, but I doubt that is even a remote possibility. This view shows one of the aged bastions, and despite its wear and tear it looks remarkably good for being constructed during the age of piracy. (And because of the age of piracy, in truth. St. Augustine has a fascinating history well worth exploring).

(c) 2015 St. Augustine Fridays

Thursday, October 1, 2015

October 02, 2015

González-Alvarez House


 This photo of the González-Alvarez house complex reminds me of pure Spanish Florida, and for that reason I love it. :-) This particular building isn’t part of the house itself, but is rather part of the grounds, and shows the colonial coquina kitchen at right. Note the decorative shrubbery and flowers, as well as the Spanish-style arcade at left. Without the modern light hanging above, one could easily imagine this to be a scene far in the past.

St. Augustine Lighthouse

St. Augustine’s Lighthouse dates from the early 1870s and is visible from many points around the region. It’s especially lovely when seen poking above the treetops while driving Anastasia Island. A close-up view reveals a complex of structures which have been very well-kept and brightly-painted. The color scheme really stands out against the bright spring sky; and the trees provide a nice frame. 

(c) 2015 St. Augustine Fridays