North-eastern Florida: St. Augustine, Jacksonville

By: Tatyana Kogut.

The north-eastern part of Florida  that is where the earliest American settlements appeared. St. Augustin was founded in 1565  50 years before the first Pilgrims arrived to New England. Many historic districts have been restored, that is why tourists get a wonderful opportunity to look into the past.

St. Augustin was founded by the Spanish. The city witnessed numerous fights between the Spanish, French and the English. In the end of the 17th century there was Castillo de San Marcos fortress built here, which faced several assaults and sieges. Prior to 1821 this region belonged to Spain, then it became a part of the United States. Castillo de San Marcos, with its 12-meter-thick walls, is like a symbol of Spanish determination to make Florida their territory for ever. Along with the Matanzas Bay, this fortress is one of the oldest buildings in the USA. A walk along the narrow cobbly streets, past coquina houses built in the 18th and 19th centuries, will help you feel the breath of history. Wooded school is the other historic building  this is the oldest wooden building of St. Augustin (300 years old!). By the way, you can even look into the old prison, visit the old shop and see how schoolteacher works.

Many old buildings have their own history. Such is The Dr. Peck House, which first housed Spanish Royal Treasury, then belonged to British governor John Moultrie, and in 1931 was given to the city as a present. The building was restored in 1968.

Another building of curiosity is the Lightner Museum, erected in the 19th century for an American tycoon and railroad developer Henry Flagler, who also manages large hotels. This building initially housed Hotel Alcazar, and nowadays displays various antiquities, glass and porcelain, old music instruments&

The Ponce de Leon Hotel is another example of the Spanish rule. Decorated with stained-glass windows, marble panels and carved oak, this property became very popular with world celebrities. Several times Presidents of the USA stayed here.

Spanish Quarter Village is like a trip into the past you can see how early pilgrims lived and did their everyday work. And, of course, visit the Fountain of Youth  Ponce de Leons dream, which he never discovered. The fountain is located in the park where tamed peacocks walk.

Jacksonville

Jacksonville is situated north of St. Augustine. Its a modern business and industrial city. No wonder why its citizens like comfort and high quality of life. Everything is done to provide their convenience: roads are well-built and equipped, infrastructure is developed.

Located by the St. Johns river, the downtown of Jacksonville united business, industrial, state and culture premises, such as Exhibition center, Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, Museum of Science and History, Florida Theater and of course the renowned Jacksonville Landing  one of the most popular places in Jacksonville, the complex of hotels, shops, exhibition halls, night and sports clubs, restaurants and other entertainment venues.

There are also several parks, the best of which are Riverwalk and River Oaks Park. In the eastern part of Jacksonville one will find Mayport Naval Station  U.S. Navy base, with lots of ships, some of which are opened to the public. But for local people Mayport is an excellent place to have rest, fish and walk.

South of Jacksonville there are lots of well-equipped beaches: Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach, popular with bathers and surfers. To cut the story short, a visit to Jacksonville is worth it.

North America Destinations
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