The oldest, continuously-occupied city in the United States was a Spanish settlement that dates to 1513, when Ponce de Leon landed here in search of the "Fountain of Youth." The later colony, which was to become St Augustine was settled in 1565.
In the 1880’s, Henry Flagler, a wealthy businessman tried to transform the city into a resort for the rich and famous. This idea later fizzled out. Much of Flagler’s legacy is part of Flagler College.
Restoration efforts in the 20th century have made the old Spanish community an important tourist destination.
My walk begins at the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. This Spanish fort is typical of the type built throughout the New World when Spain colonized much of the Americas. The fort was built in the 17th century as part of the extensive fortifications in Spanish Florida.
After your visit to the fort, turn right on San Marcos Avenue, then take a sharp left at the Old City Gates to enter St George Street. The Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse will be on your right as you proceed south. On your left is the Colonial Spanish Quarter, an open-air museum depicting daily life in the city around the year 1740.
You will pass many shops along the way and finally reach the Basilica-Cathedral of St Augustine, worth a stop. It sits on Cathedral Plaza. On the right side of St George St, opposite the plaza, is the Government House Museum, which also houses the Visitor Center.
Continue on St George St to Artillery Lane. If you turn left, the Oldest Store will be on your right. Head back to St George St and turn left, then left again on St Francis Street. Toward the water, on your left, is the Oldest House, at #14, thought to be Florida’s oldest Spanish Colonial dwelling.
Retrace your steps west on St Francis St then turn right on Cordova Street. Up ahead on your left, is the Lightner Museum, Henry Flagler’s former Alcazar Hotel. Museum-lovers may want to check it out.
Otherwise continue to King Street. Ahead and to your left is Flagler College. Guided tours are available and include a visit to the former Ponce de Leon Hotel, an impeccable masterpiece of Tiffany glass and intricate woodwork.
After your visit to the college, head north on King Street and right on Sevilla Street, then left on Valencia to the Flagler Memorial Presbyterian Church whose history is extremely interesting.
After the stop, continue north on Sevilla, then turn right on Orange Street back to the city gate. Turn left and San Marcos Avenue to Ocean Avenue. Turn right and make a short stop at the Mission of Nombre de Dios, which is said to occupy the site where Don Pedro Menendez established the Spanish colony here in 1565.
When through, head back down San Marcos Avenue to the starting point of the walking tour.