Nation's Oldest City

St. Augustine, FL

Pedro Menéndez de Avilés

Pedro Menéndez de Avilés (February 15, 1519 – September 17, 1574) was a Spanish admiral and explorer, best remembered for his founding of St. Augustine, Florida on August 28, 1565. This was the first successful Spanish attempt to establish a foothold in la Florida, is now the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement, as well as the oldest port city, in what is now the continental United States. Menéndez subsequently became the first governor of Spanish Florida.

Menéndez made his career as a sailor in the service of the king. His first plans for a voyage to Florida revolved around searching for his son, Juan, who had been shipwrecked there in 1561. However, following the establishment of Fort Caroline in present-day Jacksonville by French Huguenots under René Goulaine de Laudonnière, he was commissioned to conquer the peninsula as adelantado. He established St. Augustine in 1565, and then attacked Fort Caroline, killing most of its inhabitants. Now firmly established as governor, Menéndez turned his focus to exploring the area and establishing further fortifications. He returned to Spain in 1567 and was also appointed governor of Cuba. He made one further trip back to Florida. He died in 1574.

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