By Hilda Mitrani
In Pensacola, residents live immersed in their history. Cognizant of their role as the first attempted European settlement in the United States, they celebrate their Spanish-Colonial heritage.
Pensacola is full of historic sites for viewing this rich Hispanic heritage. Here are some you won't want to miss:
- T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum, which includes the "City of Five Flags" exhibit on the history of Pensacola from Spain's first attempt at settlement in 1559 through the American period.
- Historic Pensacola Village is a lovely area for a walking tour. You can appreciate the centuries of history still visible. In the Village, living history demonstrations of colonial period activities are offered. The Village includes the Lavalle House and Julee Cottage, both constructed circa 1805 during the Second Spanish period.
- The reconstructed Tivoli High House was used as a public ballroom and gaming house during the Second Spanish period. It is now a gift shop within the historic village area.
- At the University of West Florida Archaeology Institute, professors and students continue extensive explorations of the area. Its exhibition hall has prehistoric and historic archaeological exhibits of the northwest Florida region dating from pre-European times through Spanish Colonial period up to the 1800s.
- Fort Barrancas, built by the Spanish around 1797. Adjacent to the fort is Batería de San Antonio, a masonry water battery at the foot of the bluff. Rangers offer informative tours each day.
- The 1698-era Presidio Santa María de Galve allow for extensive exploration. The Presidio became the first permanent settlement in Northwest Florida. These detailed historical places are right on the grounds of Naval Air Station Pensacola.
Cultural exchange programs between the Spanish government and Pensacola reflect Florida's historic importance. Those of us who are of Hispanic descent are proud that our ancestors were among the first European settlers.