Welcome to the already 9th stop on or US East Coast Road Trip “New York to Key West“.
This time our destination was called St. Augustine and it was also our first stop in the sunshine State Florida.
After 5 hours and 275 miles of driving from Charleston, South Carolina we reached this fantastic summer idyll with its very exciting history of Pirates, Revolutionary Wars and much more.
The St Augustine Fort, which is truly one of the main attractions of the city is only one of the hot spots, that are waiting to be discovered.
When the photos are gone with the wind…
So I have to say this right away: Most of our photo impressions from St. Augustine are lost, which is truly a pity.
This tropical, picturesque place was offering us so many areas for fantastic snapshots. So its easy to imagine how big the disappointment was, when I couldn’t find the photos anymore, neither on the cam, stick or laptop, gone into the digital nirvana. Well, shit happens.
Nevertheless, some of them were still there and they seem to be good enough for us to share them with you.
The history of St. Augustine
Big bang first: St. Augustine is with its 12,000 citizen the oldest town in the USA!
It was founded it the year 1565 by the Spanish Admiral Pedro Menéndez de Aviléz.
Already some years later the city was attacked by the legendary privateer Sir Francis Drake and during that attack the city was burned to the ground.
Around 100 years later, in the year 1668 there were again looting and attacks by pirates. Almost all the St. Augustine citizen died during these attacks.
Then later in the years 1702 and 1740 the British attacked . Finally in 1763 the city was fully in the hand of the British Empire.
But only til 1784, when the Spaniards re-conquered the city.
The last chapter in the exciting and quite violent history of St. Augustine was the peaceful adapting to the United States of America.
The colony lost massively its importance for Spain, since they had some real trouble with the occupation of Napoleon in the own country.
The St Augustine Fort
Many houses from the Colonial times as well as the Castillo de San Marcos are still in a very good condition nowadays. This makes St. Augustine truly to a well visited place.
But what was the intention to build the St Augustine Fort?
After the great Pirate attack in the year 1668 the Spanish King decided to protect the city significantly better.
And this is how it came to the groundbreaking of the St Augustine Fort. The buildup of the fort lasted 23 years.
Heavy battles came up already pretty soon by attacks from the British in the year 1702, who were stationed in Charleston, North.
A Spanish fleet, coming from Havanna finally ended the siege of the British with a big finale, where the British were forced to burn down their own fleet before escaping.
Also St. Augustine was burned during these battles to the ground.
Later attacks, partially also with heavy bombardment also did not succeed, the St Augustine Fort withstood.
In the upcoming years many more attacks happened. Last but not least also the involvement of American troops did not bring the long awaited peace for St. Augustine.
From 1862 on the Fort was a prison, mainly for Indians and deserters.
Since 1924 the St Augustine Fort is finally a National Monument and goal of countless visitors each year.
Things to know about St. Augustine
Not only the St Augustine Fort is worth a visit, by far not.
That’s why we want to mention here some of the other interesting spots and facts about St. Augustine:
- The St. Augustine Alligator Farm, which was founded in 1893 is the only of its kind worldwide that shows alive specimens of all 23 known crocodile species
- The Potter’s Wax-Museum is the oldest Wax Museum in the USA. It contains hundreds of sculptures from famous politicians, historical persons, Sport stars and VIP’s
- Close to the city gate you will find the oldest wooden school house in the United States. It was mentioned the first time in 1716, even though the true year of foundation is not known
- Many famous people call St. Augustine their home, for example the musician Ray Charles, the writer Zora Neale Hurston or the Human rights activist Stetson Kennedy.
- The St. Augustine Amphitheater, which was renovated in 2007, is a 4000-seat Outdoor concert and offers a stage for famous musicians like James Taylor, Jack Johnson and Aretha Franklin.
- St. Augustine also has a creepy side: Continuously it belongs to the cities of America with the most ghost stories from the last four and a half centuries.
- St. Augustine is also called the “Ancient City“, “Old city” or the “oldest city of the nation“.
- the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum on the South Castillo Drive is home of one of the 3 only still existing authentic Jolly Roger Flags in the world.
- The cathedral in the inner part of the city contained the first catholic community in North America.
- St. Augustine also has the tightest street in the country. Only around 6.5 ft wide it connects via the Treasury Street the Waterfront Bay Street with the Royal Spanish Treasury.
- The 50 meters high St. Augustine lighthouse, which was built in 1874 is one of the most famous landmarks of the city
- The St. Augustine Distillery, which produces Rum, Wodka and Gin, is also home of Florida’s first Bourbon, stored in old oak barrels.
St. Augustine is truly gem-like!
More idyllic and quite small in size it is not Miami, but impresses with many beautiful spots, a fantastic tropical climate and a lot of history.
Those who want to have a closer look to the history of the United States, are finding the perfect spot here.
For us without any doubt worth a visit.
Even in direct competition to places like Savannah, Jacksonville or Daytona Beach we chose St. Augustine for our One-day-Road-Trip-Stop and have been rewarded fully.
Just a big pity that most of our photos from here got lost. We would have loved to show you many more impressions from the city, all the Harley Davidsons, the picturesque port and much more.
But maybe this might be already reason enough for us, to make another stop in the “Ancient city”…
Well, until then it might take some time. We are actually already in great anticipation to our next stop, Tampa!
See you soon, Aye Aye – with piratical greetings Hendrik!