When visitors come to Mission San Luis, they are immediately transported back to the year 1703, a time in which Spanish newcomers and Apalachee Indians lived together. Guests can walk around the square where traditional ball games were played by the Apalachees, take in the smell of traditional food cooking over a fire, or hear the ringing of a blacksmith's hammer. Mission San Luis also offers an opportunity to explore the southeast region's largest Indian building, learn about the life of a soldier at the fort, greet the church friar, discover artifacts excavated on-site that are 300 old, or simply take in the stunning scenery with a nature walk or picnic lunch. San Luis was the main village of the Apalachees and also served as the westernmost administrative, religious, and military capital for the Spaniards from 1656 to 1704. The mission was among more than 100 missions established between the 1560s and 1690s in Spanish Florida. Over 1,400 residents call the settlement home, including the Spanish deputy governor and a powerful Apalachee chief. Mission San Luis was designated in 1960 as a National Historic Landmark in commemoration of its historical significance.
Today, San Luis is Florida's only reconstructed Spanish mission. The site devotes itself to telling the stories of the lives of the former Spanish and Apalachee residents in the form of a living history museum, and is the most meticulously researched museum in the southeastern region of the country, with information about what life was like in San Luis more than three centuries ago based on intensive historical and archeological research. The site offers visitors a chance to learn more about Spanish colonization and native culture in a precisely recreated landscape.
There are several permanent exhibits on display at Mission San Luis. The exhibit gallery of Mission San Luis displays artifacts that interpret the interesting history of Spanish Florida's western capital in the 17th century. Among the many items in the gallery are Spanish and Apalachee artifacts found onsite over decades of archeology, a 3D topographic map of Mission San Luis, and replicated archeological profiles.
Another exhibit gallery at the mission features artifacts and art from the Spanish colonial period from the Calynne and Lou Hill Collection. Showcased in the gallery are devotional objects from the time period that were used in the Roman Catholic faith. These objects include retablos, which are two-dimensional enclosures/flat panels with painted depictions of saints on them, and three-dimensional carved figures known as santos. Similar objects were likely used on the 17th century mission church's altarpiece.
Mission San Luis offers programs that bring history to life as well. These educational programs emphasize learning and encourage critical thinking through interactive and hands-on activities. The San Luis Highlights Tour takes guests on a 1-1.5 hour journey through several reconstructed colonial buildings and highlights each site's important themes. The Journey to the Past Tour last 2-2.5 hours and consists of a more comprehensive tour experience. This tour features an introductory video and a walk through all the areas of the historic settlement.
2100 West Tennessee Street, Tallahassee, FL 32304, website, Phone: 850-245-6406