Florida’s Spanish Military Hospital Museum

Florida is known for its theme parks and beaches rather than any heritage, but in the north-east is St. Augustine, a city which boasts (albeit with contention) the oldest street in the US. On that street is a unique historical site – the Spanish Military Hospital Museum.

Step back 150 years into Florida history during the Second Spanish Colonial period, as Sheila from Golden Age Trips walks you through a visit to the Spanish Military Hospital Museum.

Spanish Military Hospital Museum

St. Augustine FL, USA

Old medical tools at the Spanish Military Hospital Museum

History of the Spanish Military Hospital

The Spanish Military Hospital Museum is a reconstruction of what used to be Hospital East, one of three parts that functioned as a hospital during the Second Spanish Colonial Period between 1784 and 1821. The other two parts were Hospital West and the Apothecary.

It is located on the oldest street (Aviles Street) in the United States; a title fought between Philadelphia (Elfreth’s Alley) and Florida for the last decades. Under its foundation, Spanish military records have been found, and around its streets, pottery that goes back to the 1600s has been discovered by archeologists. It is the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement within the continental United States.

Apothecary jars at the Spanish Military Hospital Museum

Visiting the Spanish Military Hospital Museum

If you enjoy hospital TV shows, have a health science or chemistry background, or just like learning history, you will enjoy this museum. After arriving at the Spanish Military Hospital Museum, I instantly knew I was in the right place when one of the first things I saw was a display of medical instruments utilized during the Spanish Colonial Periods.

The tour starts with a background on the hospital history, and it follows with surgical demonstrations. These presentations include a craniotomy, amputations, and a tooth removal. After it, you go to another room where you learn about herbal medicine and the apothecary the institution used to have. Finally, you can visit the garden in the back where medicinal plants are still growing where they used to centuries ago.

Outside the Spanish Military Hospital Museum

  • Cost? $8.50 USD for a 40-45 minutes fully guided tour.
  • Photography? No flash photography.
  • Public transport? The Sunshine Bus Company or Local Trolley Services.
  • Location? More than twenty attractions, including the Fountain of Youth.
  • Weather-dependent?  No – indoor museum.

Written by Sheila Berrios-Nazario

Sheila is a Master’s Student and small business owner based in Lakewood Ranch, Florida. A biology major, night owl, and pseudo-photographer. She is originally from Puerto Rico and lives for finding great sunsets and delicious food.

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