Spanish Military Hospital

0.75 Hour
Group Activity

From (USD) $9 Per Adult / $5 Per Child

Spanish Military Hospital

0.75 Hour
Group Activity

From (USD) $9 Per Adult / $5 Per Child

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Adult (Ages 13-59)

Child (Ages 6-12)

Senior (Ages 60+)

    For Groups of 20 or more, please contact our GoTo Crew.


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      Spanish Military Hospital

      St. Augustine, Florida, USA
      From (USD) $9 Per Adult / $5 Per Child
      • The hospital: Rebuilt after a fire on the foundations of the original facility, the Royal Hospital of Our Lady of Guadalupe is now owned by the University of Florida.
      • Lend a hand: The surgeon will need a volunteer for a demonstration. In was an era when amputation was the best (and only) alternative, so decide carefully.
      • Apothecary: Tour the on-site garden and see how medicinal herbs and plants were used during colonial times in ways that are still important today.
      • Scalpel, please: Check out an array of antique and often ghastly surgical instruments and devices used by military physicians on helpless Spanish soldiers.
      About this St. Augustine, Florida tour

      The people who crossed the Atlantic for the New World could not escape mankind's oldest enemy: bacteria. Malaria, diphtheria, smallpox, scarlet fever, and yellow fever took countless souls as epidemics swept the colonies in waves. Medical practice was largely limited to leeches, guesswork, concoctions that often included arsenic or mercury, and reassuring but nonsensical babble about "bodily humours."

      It was a time before anesthesia, before painkillers, before sanitation as basic as hand-washing. A medical textbook of the time advised the use of brandy, warm wine, and dissolved "sugar candy" in the treatment of wounds, and recommended waiting for spring or fall to perform surgery. So it's no surprise that life expectancy topped out at about 40. The nation's revered first president made it to the ripe old age of 67, only to die when doctors treating what may have been the flu had Mount Vernon's overseer drain half the blood in his body.

      But in St. Augustine, at the Royal Hospital of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Spanish army physicians and surgeons were on to something. Combining the best available knowledge from Europe and Africa with hard-won experience from the fetid, mosquito-infested swamps around the city, they concocted remedies and treatments that led to unheard of survival rates.

      Still, a stay at Our Lady would have been a harrowing nightmare of agonized screams, repulsive food, horrific odors, and, for many, a slow descent into death. If nothing else, this tour will give you a greater appreciation for the capabilities of modern hospitals. Although the food could still use some work.

      Generally haunted hospital

      Spanish hospital visitors have reported hospital beds banging themselves into their shins, footsteps and screams from empty rooms, and unseen hands tearing at their clothes to scratch the word "help" in Spanish on their skin. It may be no coincidence that workers digging up the original foundation in the early '60s uncovered quantities of bones that suggest a Timucuan Indian burial site.

      Getting prepared
      Tour Participation Requirements
      Bring money Bring money
      Wear comfortable shoes Wear comfortable shoes
      Cancellation policy

      Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.

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