Thursday, June 26, 2008

St. Augustine, Florida - Part Eleven

This beautiful park area is the historic Plaza de la Constitucion in the center of St. Augustine, Florida.

The plaza is the oldest public park in the United States and remains a center for activity in the historic city.

Spanish Royal Ordinances dating from 1573 specified that the permanent city of St. Augustine, founded only 8 years earlier, be designed around a central park or plaza.

The park was a center of activity in the city. It was the location of St. Augustine's market place and many important structures faced the plaza, including the home of the Spanish governors. As a result, citizens were enjoying shopping and other activities here decades before the first settlers set foot at either Jamestown, Virginia or Plymouth, Massachusetts.

A number of unique landmarks can be found in and around the plaza. So far as I know, it is the only location in the United States that boasts a monument to a foreign constitution. An oblisk in the center of the plaza memorializes Spain's Constitution of 1812. St. Augustine was still a Spanish capital at the time the constitution was adopted.

A public well dating from the 16th century can be seen here, as can four Civil War era cannons that once armed the Water Battery at the Castillo de San Marcos. The Plaza de la Constitucion is also the location of the city's historic open air market structure. The old market is located near the east end of the plaza. Tradition that it was a slave market, however, is not accurate. The current structure was built after the end of the Civil War.

Our series on St. Augustine will continue. Until the next post, you can learn more by visiting and looking for the St. Augustine heading.

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