St. Augustine honors Ponce de Leon with series of events

Miami, Apr 7 (EFE).- The northeastern Florida city of St. Augustine, the oldest in the United States, this weekend is paying tribute to Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon (1460-1521), who discovered Florida in 1513, with an equestrian and military exhibition and live music, among other events.

The celebration Saturday coincided with the date on which the 500th anniversary of the discovery of Florida was being commemorated and with the celebration of a Mass in the city's Cathedral Basilica dedicated to the baptismal font of Ponce de Leon, a replica of which was sent from Spain to the United States.

The installation of the replica font, which the City Hall of Santervas de Campos, Spain - Ponce de Leon's birthplace - gave as a gift to the St. Augustine city government, is one of the main events being held amid the celebrations in this country.

St. Augustine, founded in 1565 by Spaniard Pedro Menendez Aviles, is participating in various ways in this year's events for the 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon's arrival on the Florida coast, a landing which marked the start of Spanish exploration and colonization of North America and was the beginning of the modern history of the United States.

The Florida city each year welcomes 4.5 million visitors interested in exploring its historic past.

The old city is home to the impregnable Castillo de San Marcos, which dates to 1672. Its walls were built of coquina stone and it served as a refuge for local Spanish colonists and defended the city from the attacks of pirates and then-enemies of Spain.