The Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620, but by this time the Spaniards already had a colonial experiment in action—and it wasn’t in frozen Massachusetts. St. Augustine, Florida is the oldest continuously occupied European-founded city in the United States. Existing long before the American Revolutionary War, affirmative action, and women’s suffrage, this multicultural city’s impressive history can be seen in its architecture.
As a Spanish enclave in the Deep South, St. Augustine is home to not only Spanish-style buildings, but also French and English architectural styles, as both of these countries once ruled the small town. Pair these influences with the colonial, plantation-style buildings, miles of white sand and more than a few crazy tourist attractions, and you have one very distinct area.
Conquistadors explored St. Augustine as early as 1513, but the town wasn’t formally established until September of 1565, when Pedro Menéndez de Avilés erected a fort near the Timucuan Indian village of Seloy, effectively claiming Florida for Spain. In 1702, the British attacked. Though they were unable to conquer the fort that defended the town, they succeeded in burning most of the city to the ground. For this reason, only a few of the St. Augustine’s structures predate the attack. Most buildings were rebuilt in the spirit of the early settlement.