Around St Augustine
Here is another place where French were defeated: Matanzas, meaning “slaughters” in Spanish. In 1565 some 300 French castaways, under Jean Ribault, were massacred here by Spaniards, crushing their attempt to occupy Florida. The French ships, sailing from Fort Caroline to attack St. Augustine, were driven ashore by a storm. At this inlet most of the survivors were put to the knife by Don Pedro Menendez. Later on the Spanish built a fort on the inlet to protect them from a British invasion of St Augustine. Spain eventually ceded Florida to Great Britain in exchange of Cuba in 1763 after the war of seven years.
After a short stop at St Augustine lighthouse we head to the historic district. This is the oldest European established settlement in the US. St Augustine was founded by the Spanish in 1565. Spain, who was controlling Florida again (after the American revolutionary war in 1783) ceded the territory to the US. The city was the capital of Florida from its foundation to 1924 when Tallahassee took the title. Hard to follow? The European countries, especially Spain, Great Britain and France, fought hard to control America. Through the several wars and treaties, territories like Florida changed hands several times. The “locals” eventually fought for their independence, creating the United States of America, but also the United Mexican States, and more (that’s the extent of my knowledge…!).
St Augustine was a good surprise, the historic district is beautiful and buildings show different architectures and colours. North of it lies the Spanish fort Castillo de San Marcos. Built in 1672, it’s one of the oldest standing structures in North America. There are 400,000 blocks of Coquina cut and set by hand. Coquina stone is found nearby and made of sand, lime and shells.