In 1559, a Spanish expedition led by Tristán de Luna y Arellano, brought 1,500 soldiers, colonists, slaves, and Aztec Indians in 11 ships from Veracruz, Mexico, to Pensacola to begin the Spanish colonization of the northern Gulf Coast. One month after Luna and his expedition arrived, the colony was struck by a hurricane, sinking many of their ships and devastating their food supplies. After two years, the remnants of the colony were rescued by Spanish ships and returned to Mexico. The Luna settlement inhabited Pensacola from 1559 to 1561, which predates the Spanish settlement in St. Augustine, Florida, by six years, and the English settlement in Jamestown, Virginia, by 48 years. This makes Pensacola the site of the first multi-year European colonial settlement ever archaeologically identified in the United States.
In 2015, the University of West Florida archaeology program identified the archaeological site of the Luna settlement in a developed neighborhood in Pensacola. As archaeologists continue to investigate and research the Luna site, artifacts and other important information can be seen at the Pensacola Museum of History.
Learn more about the Luna Settlement