Before the arrival of Spanish, French, and English colonists to the North Florida region, the Tallahassee area, then known as "Anhaica", was the principle village of the Apalachee Indians. Evidence of this ancient culture can still be found today at a number of ancient Indian temple mounds just to the north and east of town. In addition, the City of Tallahassee actually takes its name from a Native American word thought to mean "old town" or "abandoned fields".
The name may reflect the Apalachee Indian's abandonment of the area when Spanish explorers began to arrive in the 16th century. Hernando De Soto is believed to be the first of these explorers to have reached the Tallahassee area. In 1539, he and his troops celebrated the first Christmas in the New World in the woods beside the present-day State Capitol.
Tallahassee's status as the capital was established in April 1824, three years after Spain ceded Florida permanently to the United States. At that time, the region's two major cities were Pensacola in the west and St. Augustine in the east. Tallahassee was selected as the territorial capital due in part to its central location between these two hubs.
Today, downtown Tallahassee consists of a mixture of state government buildings, historic old homes, and a growing combination of renovated historic buildings converted into banks, offices, restaurants and boutiques.