Mission San Luis in Tallahassee was the capital of the Apalachee people. The Spanish built it in 1656 as a fort and mission to convert the Apalachee to Catholicism. It is now a state park and museum that you can visit to learn about the history of Florida’s native people, the Spanish colonization of Florida, and what life was like in 17th century Florida. Plan your visit today!
Founded in 1656 by Spanish Franciscan missionaries
The construction of Mission San Luis began in 1656, making it the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement in the continental United States. It was founded by Spanish Franciscan missionaries in order to colonize and spread Catholicism among native Apalachee peoples. The mission was one of six missions created as part of a chain stretching from St. Augustine, Florida to Pensacola, Florida known as La Florida. In addition to its religious purpose, Mission San Luis acted as an important trading center for goods and services between local tribes and Europeans during the 1700s. Together with its two associated settlements, San Luis was home to over 1,400 people at its peak—a complement of soldiers, diplomats and craftspeople coming from all parts of Europe seeking refuge and fortune in the New World. Today, visitors to the mission can gain insight into its history and explore some artifacts used by early missionaries that still remain intact today.
Mission San Luis was originally built to house the Apalachee Indians
On March 28th, 1656, the Spanish founded Mission San Luis near present-day Tallahassee, Florida. It was created to help protect and spread the Catholic religion among the Apalachee Indians of the area in order to convert them to Christianity. The mission was a large farming village with rectangular buildings made of wooden posts and thatched palms. The mission also included a school, church, hospital, granary and militia garrison. As well as providing spiritual aid, many missionaries worked to teach members of the Apalachee Tribe skills based on European-style trading and bartering systems. Unfortunately, despite it’s success for a time, the native population eventually left by 1704 which marked an end to this mission’s brief period of influence over northwestern Florida.
Mission San Luis was abandoned in 1704
The fate of the mission changed in 1704 when the English armies had marched very near. The Spanish and Apalachee villagers set their fort ablaze and fled instead of allowing it to be captured. A handful of Apalachees resettled with some Spanish families in St. Augustine. The mission was abandoned and the site of San Luis went into disrepair.
In the early 21st century a project to restore and rebuild the historic mission was initiated. Now, the mission serves as a museum focusing on Apalachee Indian culture, anthropology and archaeology to showcase its long history. Visitors are able to learn about the origins of the people who once inhabited this area as well as explore the many artifacts found here such as arrow heads, pottery, bones and tools. By coming together to rebuild Mission San Luis, further knowledge of this important part of Florida’s history has been made available for visitors from all around the world to appreciate.
Tours, Educational Programs, and Events at Mission San Luis
The Mission San Luis Museum is a must-visit for anyone in the Tallahassee area looking to explore history and culture. Step back in time with guided tours highlighting the stories of indigenous inhabitants, early Spanish settlers, African-American people, and other diverse communities that have called the area home since 1703. The museum experiences don’t end there – visitors can also engage with rotating temporary exhibits, educational public and family programs, special events, digital resources, and more. Explore Florida’s colonial history like never before at Mission San Luis!
Mission San Luis provides a fascinating glimpse into the history of Spanish Florida. The mission was originally built to house the Apalachee Indians and served as a center of culture and community for them. After the mission was abandoned, it lay in ruins for centuries until it was finally rebuilt in the early 21st century. Today, the mission serves as a museum that is open to the public. Visitors can take tours, participate in educational programs, and attend special events. If you’re interested in learning more about the history of Spanish Florida, be sure to check out Mission San Luis.