Wednesday, September 16, 2009
The Fountain of Youth - St. Augustine, Florida
Ok, admittedly its a bit of a stretch, but a popular tourist attraction in St. Augustine has billed itself as Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth for more than 100 years. Millions of tourists have visited the grounds through the years.
What is not a stretch, however, is that this 15 acre park contains some of the most significant historic sites in the United States. While no one knows for sure the precise site of Juan Ponce de Leon's landing in 1539, an old tradition holds that it took place at the Fountain of Youth Park and that he sampled the water from a small spring there. The spring is now enclosed in a picturesque stone building that also features a life-size recreation of Ponce de Leon coming ashore in Florida.
While the legend may or may not be true, archaeologists have uncovered another fact that makes the park one of the most unique in America. Excavations near the waterfront have revealed the remains of the original fort and village built by Pedro Menendez de Aviles in 1565 when he arrived and founded St. Augustine. These archaeological remains represent the founding moments of the oldest city in the United States.
Archaeologists have also discovered the site of the original Mission Nombre de Dios on the grounds. It was the oldest permanent Christian site in the continental United States.
To learn more, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/fountainofyouth.