Mission San Luis functioned as the capital of the western missions in La Florida from 1656 to 1704. Populated by more than 1,500 residents, including one of the most powerful Apalachee chiefs and the Spanish deputy governor, San Luis was one of early Florida's largest colonial outposts.
A visit to Mission San Luis transports you back to 1703. Your destination is a community where Apalachee Indians and newcomers from Spain lived together.
Hear the ring of the blacksmith's hammer, smell traditional foods being cooked over an open fire, and walk the plaza where the Apalachees played their traditional ball games. Experience the largest historic-period Indian building found in the Southeast and greet the friar at the church. Learn about a soldier's life at the fort, and explore 300-year-old artifacts excavated onsite. Or just enjoy the beautiful outdoor setting with a picnic lunch or nature walk. Escape to another time, and share the spirit of Mission San Luis with friends and family!
Mission San Luis brings history to life for students with programs that encourage critical thinking and emphasize learning by doing hands-on and interactive activities. The site also offers a wide range of educational programming for adults. Workshops provide the opportunity to learn about 17th century Spanish and Native American crafts and lifestyles while expressing creativity. Participants will gain the skills needed to craft materials or cook foods similar to those made by 17th century mission residents.
Tour the exhibit gallery, where the history of this 17th-century western capital of Spanish Florida is interpreted. See replicated archaeological profiles, a three-dimensional topographic site map, and Apalachee and Spanish artifacts discovered at Mission San Luis over decades of archaeology.
Also on display in the exhibit gallery are period devotional objects in the Roman Catholic tradition, including santos (three-dimensional carved figures) and retablos (two-dimensional flat panels/enclosures on which images of saints were painted). Similar items were probably used in the altarpiece of the 17th-century Mission church.
page information credit: Mission San Luis, Florida Division of Historical Resources, John C. Hann, Jerald T. Milanich, Bonnie McEwan, Visit Florida, TripAdvisor, John's Military History, University of Florida
photos from the sources listed above, as well as publicly posted online sites with thanks to the contributors