HomeHotspotsCastillo de San Marcos National Monument, St. Augustine

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, St. Augustine

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Louis Yamonico

The Castillo de San Marcos (“St. Mark’s Castle”) is the oldest masonry fort in the United States; it is located on the western shore of Matanzas Bay. Construction on the fort began in 1672 after the founding of St. Augustine while Florida was part of the Spanish empire. The fort’s construction was ordered after a raid by the English in 1668 that destroyed much of St. Augustine.

Castillo de San Marcos was attacked several times and twice besieged: but was never taken by force. Possession of the fort has changed five times, all peaceful, among four different governments: Spain,  Kingdom of Great Britain, United States of America, and the Confederate States of America.

The Castillo is a masonry star fort made of a stone called coquina, which consists of ancient shells that have bonded together to form a sedimentary rock similar to limestone. The fort remains in excellent condition to this day and has a lot to explore. Many of the cannons remain on the walls and the fort still looks like it can be activated. All four bastions remain here and you can walk the walls on top of the fort which makes for some great photo opportunities.

Inside the fort there is plenty of reading material about the forts history from when it was built to when it was decommissioned in 1933. It also contains some props to make it feel as though you are in an active fort as well as some soldiers dressed in the original Spanish uniforms from when the fort was first built. These soldiers put on a small show by the water as well firing their rifles over the water periodically.

Military veterans and their families of up to 4 can enter free as it is a national monument but others can buy a pass for $15 which is good for 7 days and you may want to return as we did. We watched the sunrise early one morning over the bay and got some great pictures. Here is their webpage: https://www.nps.gov/casa/index.htm

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