The miniature versions of the San Marcos fort and an Apalachee Indian village as well as the recreation of the myth of the Fountain of Youth are available to the public in the "Imagining La Florida" exhibit, which offers an "exciting tour" of the Spanish colonial period, curator J. Michael Francis said.

The exhibit interactively and pleasantly illustrates the first two centuries in the history of Florida starting with its discovery by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513, Francis, a professor at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, told Efe on Thursday.

The main challenge of the exposition, which opens Thursday at Miami's Freedom Tower, is "to go beyond the myths" and combine historical rigor and entertainment to review a colonization effort that was a melting pot for a "tremendous diversity" of cultures, he said.

"In the United States, there's still the impression that history begins with the English and their arrival in 1607 at what is today Jamestown," forgetting that the Spanish Jesuits had founded a mission in that area and interacted with the Indians there almost four decades earlier, Francis said.

The celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Spaniards' arrival is a unique occasion for "politicians, professors and students to delve into and understand" the history of Spanish Florida during the first phase of colonization between 1513 and 1763.

Already at that time "people from all over the world, from English, Irish, Africans and Indians, with different languages and cultures, established themselves in Spanish Florida and integrated themselves," Francis emphasized.

Via illustrated panels, videos, artifacts, documents, maps and itineraries of the Spanish explorers, Imagining La Florida invites people to take an extraordinary trip told from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

The exhibit was organized and produced by Accion Cultural Española, a public entity devoted to promoting Spanish culture and heritage all over the world. EFE