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San Luis de Talimali

Mission San Luis de Talimali (also known as San Luis de Apalachee or Mission San Luis) was one of the first missions established in Apalachee Province, around 1633. Relations soon became tense between the Spaniards and the native population, sparking the 1647 Apalachee Rebellion. During this revolt, the deputy governor and his family, along with several friars, were killed. The chief of San Luis, however, remained loyal to the Spaniards and was not involved in the uprising.  

Apalachee Province became increasingly important for supplying St. Augustine, and in 1656, the Spanish asked the chief of San Luis to move his village to an uninhabited hilltop, which remains its present location. Eventually, San Luis would be recognized as the western headquarters of Spanish Florida.

The mission was home to a thriving Apalachee Indian population (1,400 recorded in 1675) and a small Spanish community. As an important transportation and communications hub, it maintained links to other borderland settlements, to a wide variety of Indian nations, and even to Mexico and Cuba. From the time of its initial settlement, there was a trail connecting Mission San Luis to other missions and St. Augustine.

Mission San Luis LayoutThe Camino Real at San Luis was located north of the central plaza and guarded by Spanish military patrols and native guards. Many Spanish buildings at Mission San Luis were built after 1680 and were aligned to follow the road, which ran through the village. San Luis probably came to have a layout similar to St. Augustine, with streets running parallel and perpendicular to the Camino Real and encompassing the plaza. It is likely that it had taverns, inns, and stables for travelers near the road. In the 1690s, one visitor observed that San Luis looked much like a Spanish city.

The Apalachee missions became the target of invasion by English Carolinians in 1704, but rather than let it fall into enemy hands, the Spaniards and Apalachees burned San Luis and evacuated just days before the invaders arrived. After 1704, it appears San Luis remained relatively undisturbed until after the United States took control of Florida in 1821.

Mission San Luis Today

Church at Mission San LuisToday, Mission San Luis de Talimali is a National Historic Landmark owned by the State of Florida and managed by the Florida Department of State. It is the only reconstructed Spanish mission in Florida and is recognized as one of the most significant archaeological and historical sites in the Southeast. Mission San Luis is a living history museum, where visitors can walk the plaza where the Apalachee played their traditional ball games, see the largest recreated Indian building in the region, meet the friar at the church, and talk to the soldiers who guard the Spanish fort.

Mission San Luis excavationMission San Luis is located in Tallahassee and can be reached from I-10 via US 90.  Additional information is available at Mission San Luis.