Juan Ponce de Leon By: Matthew LoPresti Country of Origin Juan Ponce de Leon was born in San Servas, what is now Spain. The exact date of his birth is unknown. Pictured to the left, is Spain’s flag. Juan Ponce de Leon Juan Ponce de Leon was a Spanish explorer who claimed lands for the Spanish king and queen in the 1500s. He was the first European to establish a colony on what is now known as the island of Puerto Rico. He was the first Spanish explorer in Florida, but his attempt to build a colony failed. Dates of Exploration 1493 - Ponce de Leon joins Christopher Columbus’ second voyage to the New World. 1502 – He becomes the governor of Higuey 1506 - Ponce de Leon discovered a nearby island, Borinquen. 1508 - He was granted permission to colonize Borinquen, which he renamed Puerto Rico. March 4, 1513 – He set sail from Puerto Rico with three ships searching for an island called Bimini. April 3, 1513 – His ships land on Florida's east coast near present-day St. Augustine. He claimed the land for Spain and named it La Florida. October, 1513 - Ponce de Leon and his crew return to Puerto Rico. 1521 – He left for his second voyage to La Florida. In July, natives attacked and he was wounded. He died from his injury. Reason for Exploration Juan Ponce de Leon went searching for the Fountain of Youth and wanted the glory of finding this amazing treasure. Juan Ponce de Leon was also searching for a better life filled with wealth and power. His Sponsor On his first voyage, in 1493, Ponce de Leon was sponsored by Spain. The Journey of Ponce de Leon This is the route Juan Ponce de Leon took on his first expedition in 1513. He made two voyages to Florida. The Ships Ponce de Leon led three ships during his voyages. They were called the Santiago, the Santa Maria and the San Cristobal. The Santiago was a ship built for sailing in the high waves of the Atlantic. It was light and fast and could carry about 20 people. The Santa Maria was his ship that sailed with the Spanish flag at the front, during his first voyage to Florida. It was the largest and could carry up to 38 people. The San Cristobal was the smallest ship, it could only carry 15 people. It was great for sailing close to shore or up rivers. Effects of Exploration Juan Ponce de Leon discovered the Gulf Stream in 1513. This discovery was very important for sailors headed across the Atlantic. The quick route was helpful for sailors to escape pirates and bring goods back from the New World. He is also known as the Spanish explorer who discovered Florida. Important Facts The second expedition was not successful. He wasn’t able to establish a Spanish colony at La Florida. Many of the colonist who joined him were killed in the Calusa attack. Ponce de Leon was wounded during an attack and later died from his injuries. He was buried at the San Juan Cathedral in Puerto Rico. A Spanish colony was not established in Florida for another 38 years! Interesting Facts Ponce de Leon was governor of Borinquen for one year and was replaced by Christopher Columbus’ son, Diego Columbus. When they discovered Florida, they thought it was an island. Ponce de Leon named the new land, La Florida. It means “the flowered one” in Spanish. He never found the Fountain of Youth, because it never existed. The city of Ponce, Puerto Rico was founded in 1670, and was named after him.