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Good For Kids

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good views of the nearby area and the water
Photo Credit: guyonthego

Castillo de San Marcos

1 South Castillo Drive St. Augustine, FL 32084
The fort is open 8:45am to 5:15pm.
904-829-6506 2 hours
January 2013 All year
$0-9 St. Augustine Florida
Website Historical Forts
First review
Castillo de San Marcos is a 20 acre national monument that primarily consists of a masonry fort built by the Spanish from 1672-1695. The fort has a square shaped interior plaza and 4 triangular bastions on the outer walls. It successfully withstood two different sieges and served under the flags of multiple countries in a military capacity for over 200 years. Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the United States, is the best preserved, and is widely considered to be the most historically significant.

Approximately a dozen wooden forts were built by the Spanish to protect St. Augustine, but the forts proved inadequate in defending the town, which frequently was burned. San Marcos was constructed out of a local stone and shell combination called coquina, which proved extremely resilient to artillery attacks. The fort was tested by major English attacks in 1702 and again in 1740 but held both times. It later changed hands peacefully as different powers won or lost control of Florida. Toward the end of its days as a military base in the late 1800s, it was used by the US to hold Indian prisoners. The fort was deactivated in 1900 and became a park in 1924.

Walking through the gates of this fort is like walking back in time to visit a distant but strategic outpost of the Spanish Empire. It’s easy to see why the fort was never captured, given its formidable walls, commanding location and defensive capabilities. As a historic site, some shortcomings included limited museum displays and limited interpretive staff. Also, interior acess was inadequate. However, the fort’s overall condition was still impressive. Since it can be seen quickly and is nearby many other historical attractions in town, the fort fits in well with a local vacation itinerary, and kids will like it too. Periodically on weekends and holidays there are reenactors on hand as well as historic weapons demonstrations.
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