St. Augustine, Florida is the oldest continuously occupied European established city and port in the United States, founded in 1565 by Spanish explorer and admiral Pedro Menendez de Aviles and sits in an area that is known as the First Coast. The area would initially be discovered and explored by the Spanish explorer and governor of Puerto Rico, Juan Ponce de Leon, that would arrive here in 1513 and claim the area for the Spanish crown. Numerous other attempts at establishing a village or settlement in the region would be done by the Spanish and French, although none of those would survive. The city originally had been chosen to become a base of operations for the Spanish as they trekked across the southeastern US, but would be hampered by hostilities and apathy by the local natives that didn't want to become Spanish subjects, or anyone else's for that matter. It is a fascinating city, filled with historical houses, businesses and more, with many old houses still being used for businesses in the old section of the city that is now called St. George Street. Many of the houses along this street are original and others have been reconstructed, with numerous outstanding points of interest. These include the Avero House, Tolomato Cemetery and Huguenot cemetery, Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, the oldest wooden schoolhouse in the nation, Fort Matanzas Historic State park, the Spanish military hospital, Fort Mose Historic State Park, St. Francis barracks, Nombre de Dios, the Spanish Quarter village, the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park and much more, depending on the period you wish to explore, like the King's bakery constructed while the British had control, the St. Augustine Lighthouse and museum and the Markland mansion that were constructed during the pre-Flagler period and during the Flagler period, the Ponce de Leon Hotel, the alligator farm, Casa Monica Hotel, Hotel Alcazar, Bridge of Lions, the Old St. John's County jail, Ripley's and much more. It is one of the best attractions in the state for both visitors and locals, that come here for the unique experience of visiting the oldest city in the nation, along with the fabulous restaurants and beautiful architecture. The city has more to offer, but the majority of folks from the state come here to visit the old village and walk the street of St. George, enjoying the crowds of people from all over the world and the many unique boutiques that line the street. It is an experience that every American should enjoy and will enjoy when they come. The easiest way to travel the city and the area is to rent a vehicle from Enterprise Rent-A-Car where you have the option of traveling around the city and area to enjoy all the sights and venues. Enterprise has the best staff to help you decide the finest vehicle for you and your family's needs, as well as allowing you to come and go as you want.
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One of the most unique sights you'll see in the city of St. Augustine is the old Castillo de San Marcos, which is now the oldest masonry fort in the United States located in the city, but close to the old village. Its construction would start in 1672, by the Spanish, but would be called Fort St. Mark when the British conquered the city from the Spanish and held it for two decades, and when it became part of the new state of Florida in 1821, it would be renamed Fort Marion, after Revolutionary War hero, Francis Marion. However, in 1942, Congress would change its name back to its original, and although it had been attacked many times, it would never be taken over. When you visit the fort, be sure to walk around the walls of coquina where you will see the old holes of musket balls and cannon balls that would blast into the unique coquina stone and just make a dent, regardless of how close or far you were. You can even see the rows of musket holes where prisoners would be executed along the walls on the exterior from centuries ago. The city itself would be built on top of a former Native American village, and during the next century the Spanish would construct nine wooden forts to defend the town. It is a masonry or actually coquina stone fort shaped in a star, by workers that had been brought here from Cuba, as well as any native Americans they could find. The coquina would be quarried from the King's quarry on Anastasia Island, which is now Anastasia State Park that sits across the Matanzas Bay from the fort. It would take twenty-three years to complete the project and have four bastions with a ravelin that protects the sally port. It is a sight to see, with many outstanding and interesting nooks and crannies to visit, as well as the view of the bay and city from the parapets. You can visit the fort and the rest of the old village, by renting a vehicle from Enterprise Rent-A-Car, with the best deals and prices in the state. Enterprise also has great people working for them that are always interested in giving you what you need at the best possible price.