Science & Culture

Mission San Luis de Apalachee

Mission San Luis de Apalachee was among the largest and most important missions in Spanish Florida. Its parishioners were Apalachee Indians who were descendants of those people whose village Hernando de Soto appropriated during the winter of 1539-1540. The Apalachees were the most culturally advanced of Florida’s native peoples, and Mission San Luis was one of the first missions established by Franciscan friars in their efforts to serve the Apalachees’ major villages that spread across the highlands of Leon and Jefferson Counties. The mission was recognized as the western capital of Spanish Florida. Mission San Luis was home to more than 1,500 Apalachees as well as a Spanish deputy governor, soldiers, friars, and civilians. The site was burned and abandoned by its residents in 1704 just two days before an Anglo-Creek strike force reached it. Mission San Luis was never repopulated by Spanish colonists or the Apalachee Indians, who had lived in the region for centuries. Recognizing its historical and archaeological significance, the State of Florida purchased Mission San Luis in 1983. Today it is managed by the Floriday Department of State’s Division of Historical Resources. It is the only reconstructed Spanish mission in Florida. For more information, see