Four Sites That Highlight Spanish Colonial Heritage
By Space Coast Daily // November 15, 2019
Stretching from Melbourne Beach to Canaveral National Seashore south, the Space Coast encompasses over 72 miles of white sandy beachfront, picturesque piers, surfing spots and plenty of museums dedicated to the United States’ space program, including The Kennedy Space Center.
But aside from the regular rocket launches that give the Space Coast its nickname, the region also offers an abundance of historic and cultural destinations.
We’ve been scouring the Space Coast’s beautiful coastlines and buzzing cities in search of the Hispanic heritage sites that are well worth a visit.
McLarty Treasure Museum
According to local historians, an ill-fated fleet of eleven Spanish galleon ships sank along the east central Florida coast in 1715 as they returned from Spain.
Located in Vero Beach, the McLarty Treasure Museum was where one of the survivors’ campsites was located. Sebastián Garcia at REVIEWBOX told how: “700 people lost their lives in the disaster, while more than 1500 men, women and children managed to survive.”
According to Sebastián Garcia, the museum houses lots of exhibits and video that recounts the history of the 1715 Spanish treasure fleet. There are artifacts to see and an observation deck across the Atlantic Ocean.
Juan Ponce de León Landing
Set within 25.57 acres, the regional beach park commemorates Juan Ponce de León’s epic 1513 voyage and his landing near Melbourne Beach.
It was the Spanish explorer’s 7,980 nautical mile trip to the southeast coast of what would become the United States, that set the stage for future European colonization.
He named the land ‘La Florida’ and in 1493, before turning south to Brevard County and exploring the coast to Key West.
Located about 50 miles east of Orlando, Merritt Island is a unique peninsula that is rich in Spanish colonial history. It was given to a nobleman man named Merritt as part of a land grant from the King of Spain, and first featured in a 1605 map drawn by explorer Alvara Mexia.
Take a visit to Dummitt Castle, a majestic old house that also dates back to the Spanish colonial era.
St. Augustine is considered the oldest continuously-inhabited European settlement in the country, and was founded in 1565 by Spanish admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés who named it “San Agustín”.
Fort Mosé, one of the most important sites in American history, is hidden away here.
The fort was where the first free community of ex-slaves settled in 1738, once they had declared their allegiance to the King of Spain and joined the Catholic church.
There is also the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, which is a landmark Spanish fortress built in 1695 and the oldest and largest masonry fort in the continental United States.