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Spanish explorer Ponce de León’s legacy lives on 500 years later

Santervás de Campos, Spain, Jul 26 (EFE).- Over 500 years after famously becoming the first known European to travel to Florida, the legacy of Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León lives on in his native town of Santervás de Campos.

The population of the small town of just 65 inhabitants in Valladolid province has doubled since the arrival Monday of participants of the United Nations Vuelta al Mundo programme — a 23-day expedition that tours parts of Spain and Portugal to mark the 500th anniversary of the first circumnavigation of the world.

The stop in Santervás de Campos commemorates Ponce de León, who in 1513 landed in Florida and named the land after its rich vegetation. He was also the first governor of Puerto Rico.

Legend has it that Ponce de León was searching for the Fountain of Youth. Supposedly, he had set sail for Bimini, an island in the Bahamas, after Native Americans told him the fountain would be there.

While Ponce de León’s expedition to Florida has made him a legend on both sides of the Atlantic, his legacy lives on the strongest in his native Santervás de Campos.

The welcome sign to the town is just the first of a series of symbols representing the importance of the Spanish conquistador for the town, followed by a statue of Ponce de León in the central square and a museum dedicated to his story.

“We are famous in many places in Latin America for his legacy, we have relations with Puerto Rico and Florida, we have had high profile visitors such as the mayor of Miami,” Santervás de Campos’ mayor, Santiago Baeza, told Efe.

“We are born with him and we die with him, (…) he has left us a necessary and very important legacy,” he added. EFE

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