Presidio Santa Mariá de Galve


A 1699 Spanish drawing of Fort San Carlos de Austria, the main fort at the presidio



Naval Air Station Pensacola
Pensacola, FL 32508






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Spain established Presidio Santa María de Galve on a high bluff overlooking Pensacola Bay in 1698 to ward off French encroachment into Florida from Mobile to the west. The Presidio consisted of a fort called Fort San Carlos de Austria, a church, and a village. In 1719 the French took over the installation until 1722, when it was given back to the Spanish by treaty. The French burned it to the ground upon their departure. The Spanish abandoned the location and established a new presidio across Pensacola Bay on Santa Rosa Island, near the location of Fort Pickens.

Presidio Santa María de Galve represents the first successful Spanish colonial settlement in Pensacola and the city has been permanently occupied by Europeans since the presidio's founding over 300 years ago. In 1996 the University of West Florida began historical and archaeological research at the "First Pensacola" site.

This research led to uncovering the fort, village, and church and learning about the everyday lives of those on the frontier of the Spanish colonial empire. A fort reconstruction and interpretive exhibits at the site, located northeast of Fort Barrancas on Naval Air Station Pensacola, explain the history and archaeology of the site.