On Tuesday, April 2nd, Florida Governor Rick Scott and his full cabinet – Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater – visited Castillo de San Marcos as part of a week-long celebration of the 500th anniversary of Juan Ponce de Leon’s landing in “La Florida.”
The governor and his cabinet simultaneously gave the command ‘fuego’ to the cannon crew to fire two of the park’s cannons at sunrise. High media interest surrounded the event and highlighted Castillo de San Marcos’ history as the oldest masonry fortification in the continental United States.
Juan Ponce de Leon led an expedition that reached 30°8’ where he landed on April 3, 1513 and named the new land La Florida due to the many flowers that bloom in the region at this time of year.
From this simple voyage Spain would explore a vast area and eventually settle St. Augustine in 1565. The town served as capital of Florida and eventually boasted a coquina stone fort in 1672.
The Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas serve as pivotal symbols of Florida’s 500th “birthday “in 2013 and St. Augustine’s 450th anniversary in 2015.