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Discover the off-beat, strange & haunted
attractions of the "Sunshine State"
2100 West Tennessee Street
Tallahassee, FL  32304
850-245-6406
Mission San Luis
Tuesday - Sunday: 10am - 4pm
Closed on Mondays, New Year's Day,
Easter, July 4, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve & Christmas Day

It was hot, and the sun shining on the white walls was nearly blinding as I stepped into the church. Standing in the dark room waiting for my eyes to adjust to the light, I immediately noticed how cool it was compared to the outside. As the interior slowly came into focus, I was struck by the simplistic beauty and the peaceful quiet. Walking around looking at the paintings on the walls, it was hard not to think about the 900 people buried under the simple dirt floor.

For perhaps a 1000 years, an advanced and powerful tribe lived in Northwest Florida. The Apalachee lived in the area around present day Tallahassee. Known as fierce warriors who went into battle with their bodies painted red by ochre paint, they were also considered prosperous by other tribes due to the farming of corn, squash and beans. In 1528, when Pánfilo de Narváez came to the area, the population is estimated to be 50,000. Eleven years later, Hernado de Soto would make his winter camp nearby, driving out the natives, using their food stores and lodges for his men.

In the early 1600s, a mission was built and friars were sent at the request of the natives that had been converted. Mission San Luis was moved to its present location in 1656 atop one of the tallest hills around and a church, friary and fort were built. The mission and village became the capitol of the western Spanish missions and the Apalachee nation,wh and soon became vital to the Spanish government by providing food for St. Augustine and security for the western providence. By 1675, it had grown to the largest Spanish settlement outside of St. Augustine.

After more than a century of disease, war, slavery, abuse and mistreatment, the once great Apalachee tribe had dwindled down to a shadow of its former self. In 1704, with war raging between Spain and England, British troops began closing in on Mission San Luis, the last remaining Spanish stronghold. Left with no other options, the Spanish and Apalachee burned the village, church, crops and castillo, and evacuated.

Fast forward 300 years and the site of the mission and village is now a living history museum. Buildings like the church, friary, fort and council house have been rebuilt on their original locations with painstaking attention to making them as historically accurate as possible.

If you go, plan to spend some time. The location is large with a lot to see and experience. Along with displays, re-enactments and information boards, there are many costumed interpreters that are full of valuable information. Don’t rush through it … take the time to soak it all in.

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This article was contributed by in May 2014 and updated in December 2014. It has been viewed 3,898 times.

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