Strolling St. George Street

Saint Augustine Travel Blog

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The Visitor's Center

This morning I woke up and on a whim I decided to make the short trip southward to St. Augustine, Florida.  St. Augustine is the nation's oldest city.  It was founded by the Spanish in 1565 by Pedro Menendez de Aviles.   Twenty years olate Sir Francis Drake led an attack on the colony and burned down a majority of St. Augustine.  As a result of the Treaty of Paris which ended the French and Indian War, the British gained control of St. Augustine and the rest of Florida, however the historic district of St. Augustine mostly reflects it's Spanish past. 

 

The first of the Spanish remnants that I visited was Castillo de San Marcos, a masonry star fort made of coquina.  The fort came complete with a draw bridge, moat, high walls and over 70 cannons.

  The Spanish kept all the land in a 100 meter radius clear of shrubbery which made it so that anyone approaching the fort would have no place to hide.  During the British occupation of the fort, the Brits added a second story to the fort, however this is not currently open to the public.

Before going into any of the rooms off of the court yard I climbed the stairs to the top of the fort to get panoramic views of the river.  The views were absolutely incredible!  There were several period cannons on display as well as some cannon balls.  Downstairs I went into each of the rooms, most of which were empty.  Some of the rooms open to visitors include the chapel, storage rooms and many other unidentified rooms.  Eastern corner you will find two small rooms that were once used as bathrooms, luckily for us modern day plumbing has been installed and visitors don't have to pee in a hole.

Castillo de San Marco
  One room that I found interesting was a room resembling that of the British quarters.  The quarters had four bunk beds which slept four people in each bed, two on the top and two on the bottom as well as a table with chairs and wash basins.  During their free time soldiers would retire to their quarters to play cards or repair their uniforms. 

 

Another cool room was off located just off of yet another empty, windowless coquina constructed room.  There was a knee high doorway in which you had to crawl through to access the room.  This is where the gun powder was stored.  It was really humid in the room but it was a safe place to keep the powder from getting wet.

After I left the fort I strolled down St.

George Street a popular pedestrian only shopping district.  Here you will find many antique stores, souvenier shops and cafes.  After stopping for an icecream I stepped into a beautiful cathedral where Menedez is buried.  Inside I discovered many similarities to the Catholic churches I've visited in Europe.  There were several alcoves where you can light a prayer candle, beautiful stained glass windows and a lovely organ.  The altar was beautiful, as I turned to examine it closer, a man dropped down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend.  It was very sweet and I could see why he chose this place.

Next I checked out the work of local artisans at a square at the end of St. George Street just across from the cathedral.

  Afterwards I walked towards the beautiful Flagler College before going to the City Hall Building where the the Lightner Museum is located.  This is by far the best museum I've visited within the state of Florida.  The museum is housed in what was once the Alcazar Hotel and contains many antiquities, mostly from the Victorian era.  There is also a science exhibit where you'll find an Egyptian mummy, loads of shells, gemstones, Native American artifacts and a shrunken head.  Other parts of the building showcase model steam engines, Roccoco sculptures, glass and a music room full of instruments.   I was very surprised by the museum.  I couldn't believe that my admission was only $2 ($8 is the normal admission price).
The courtyard of the fort
 

After leaving the museum I started heading back to my car.  I decided to take the less populated road that parallel's St. George Street.  I stopped by an old cemetary on the way.  I packed in the parking garage at the visitor's center.  The cost was $1.25 an hour and it included security, or you can find parking a little closer to the action for $5 a day.  Depending on how long you spend here depends on which option would be better for you.  Either way you're not far from anything.

 

Admission to Castillo de San Marco- $6
Admission to Lightner Museum- $2

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The Visitors Center
The Visitor's Center
Castillo de San Marco
Castillo de San Marco
The courtyard of the fort
The courtyard of the fort
Inside Castillo de San Marco
Inside Castillo de San Marco
The British Quarters
The British Quarters
Gun Powder Room
Gun Powder Room
The doorway to the gunpowder room
The doorway to the gunpowder room
The Cathedral
The Cathedral
The Altar
The Altar
City Hall/Lightner Museum
City Hall/Lightner Museum
Dinosaur Egg
Dinosaur Egg
A shrunken head
A shrunken head
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
King Francis
King Francis
Egptian Mummy
Egptian Mummy
Inside the Lightner Museum
Inside the Lightner Museum
Stained Glass at the Museum
Stained Glass at the Museum
Milton and Shakespeare are depicte…
Milton and Shakespeare are depict…
This used to be the ballroom
This used to be the ballroom
Cleopatra
Cleopatra
Cleopatra again
Cleopatra again
Abe Lincoln
Abe Lincoln
Flagler College
Flagler College
Pedro Menedez
Pedro Menedez