Have you noticed there are a few lions in Saint Augustine? And no, they are not here because Ponce de Leon (Lion) discovered Florida! Or are they?
The lion represents courage, nobility, royalty, strength, and watchfulness. This symbol has been on the flag of Spain since the 15th century. It was first incorporated when Queen Isabella married and united the five kingdoms of Spain, including Leon and Castille.
The lion symbol came to Florida with the Spanish. The flag of Spain was first brought to Florida with Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513. It was a simple X (the Cross of Burgandy) until 1703, when the Spanish Colonial Flag was used. Notice the lions. No national flag existed, but Ponce de Leon sailed under the Castle and Lion flag (Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand's flag).
In 1715, Saint Augustine petitioned King Phillip V for a coat of arms. The city didn't know that it had been granted for 276 years. In 1991, it was officially regranted. In the coat of arms is included a purple lion standing erect. This represents majesty and kingship.
Saint Augustine has adopted the lion as its symbol, which can be seen everywhere. Probably the most notable are the lions on the Bridge of Lions. On the west side are 2 Medici Marble Lions, Firme and Fiel (Firm and Faithful). They were donated when the bridge was begun in 1924—Dr. Andrew Anderson donated the lions. In 2015, on our 450th anniversary, matching granite lions were placed on the bridge's east side.
So, how many can you find? One of our young visitors found 22. I know there are more! Here are just a few for you to find.