100 years after St. Augustine’s founding, English pirate Robert Searle sailed into Matanzas Bay. The pirates underneath his command killed 60 folks, looted each constructing, and kidnapped one other 70 folks for ransom. After Searle sailed away, the Queen Regent Mariana of Spain lastly licensed the development of the settlement’s first masonry fort – Castillo de San Marcos.
All through the fort’s 200-year service historical past, it was owned by Spain, Nice Britain, and the USA, stood guard by almost a dozen wars, and served as a jail for Revolutionary Struggle and Civil Struggle prisoners. However the masonry fort, constructed from an area stone known as coquina, was by no means captured in battle.
Castillo de San Marcos Nationwide Monument preserves the oldest masonry fort within the oldest metropolis in the USA.
Temporary Historical past
Over fifty years after Ponce de Leon explored Florida, Spanish Admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés based St. Augustine in 1565. Spain has the New World to itself – it might be one other fifty years earlier than the British based Jamestown. The one threats got here from Native People and pirates, so the one defenses have been a sequence of rickety wood forts.
However 100 years after St. Augustine’s founding, English pirate Robert Searle sailed into Matanzas Bay. Pirates underneath his command killed 60 folks, looted each constructing within the settlement, and kidnapped one other 70 folks for ransom.
Queen Regent Mariana of Spain ordered the Florida governor to construct a masonry fort. Castillo de San Marcos – Spanish for “Fortress of Saint Mark” – was constructed from 1672 till 1695. As soon as accomplished, the fort featured coquina partitions 12 ft thick and 33 ft excessive, surrounded by a moat, and guarded by dozens of cannons mounted on the bastions.
Did You Know? Coquina is a sort of limestone native to coastal areas all over the world. The stone contains tiny seashells larger than 2mm in dimension that has been compressed over hundreds of years. Coquina is the Spanish phrase for “tiny shell.”
In 1702, the fort was attacked by a British fleet from Carolina Province – modern-day Jacksonville. After which, in 1740, John Oglethorpe sailed from Savannah to siege the fort. All through the a long time, the coquina partitions held, and St. Augustine was by no means captured.
In 1763, the French and Indian Struggle ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. Spain was compelled to cede West Florida to Nice Britain. The British lastly took command of the fort and renamed it Fort Saint Mark – the English translation of the unique identify.
However simply twenty years later, in 1783, the British have been compelled to return Florida to Spanish management on the finish of the American Revolutionary Struggle. The Spanish reinstated their identify for the fort. However Floridians weren’t content material to stay underneath Spanish rule. In 1819, the Adams-Onis Treaty was signed, and the burgeoning United States bought East and West Florida from Spain.
The U.S. Struggle Division took possession of Castillo de San Marcos in 1821 and maintained a small garrison and jail within the fort. In 1825, the Struggle Division renamed it Fort Marion after Revolutionary Struggle hero Francis Marion. In 1900, the fort was decommissioned.
In 1924, Fort Marion and close by Fort Matanzas have been declared nationwide monuments. Though the Nationwide Park Service was created in 1916, the Struggle Division maintained the 2 nationwide monuments till they have been transferred in 1933.
Lastly, in 1942 an act of Congress reinstated the unique identify of the nationwide monument – Castillo de San Marcos Nationwide Monument. It’s the oldest masonry fort in the USA that was by no means captured in battle – however nonetheless modified possession 3 times all through its historical past.
Did You Know? The Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest construction in St. Augustine, accomplished in 1695. However the González-Alvarez Home is the oldest home. The home’s first ground was accomplished in 1727, and the ultimate kind seen at present was completed in 1790.
The NPS App is the official app of the Nationwide Park Service. The app takes all the knowledge obtainable on-line – park info, interactive maps, movies, journey alerts, and issues to do – and places it at your fingertips on a smartphone.
The Castillo de San Marcos Nationwide Monument web page within the app contains self-guided excursions, park films, and interactive maps.
High 5 Issues to Do at Castillo de San Marcos Nationwide Monument
- Take the self-guided strolling tour of the fort’s inside and canons alongside the wall – decide up a brochure on the ticket sales space or use the NPS app map.
- Stick round for a historic weapon demonstration with muskets or canons
- Discover the inside rooms of the fort, together with the jail cell the place Revolutionary Struggle heroes have been held in solitary confinement
- Benefit from the view of St. Augustine from the fort’s partitions
- Go for a stroll across the perimeter of the fort to the Previous Metropolis Gates
Castillo de San Marcos Self-Guided Strolling Tour
The easiest way to discover the Castillo de San Marcos is with the self-guided strolling tour. The tour is on the market by the NPS Park App. The tour begins on the sally port – or entrance into the fort – and passes by the inside rooms of the casement.
The rooms are full of interpretive indicators, historic artifacts, and intriguing items of historical past to discover. Park rangers are often roaming by the rooms to reply any questions.
Artillery Self-Guided Strolling Tour
The unique design of Castillo de San Marcos didn’t embrace an elevated platform alongside the fort’s partitions. However after a number of battles, the Spaniards realized limiting canons to the bastions on the fort’s corners was not sufficient.
The Artillery Self-Guided Strolling Tour is an interesting exploration alongside the fort’s perimeter. Virtually 40 canons, mortars, and howitzers line the partitions overlooking St. Augustine and Matanzas Bay.
Spanish canons are gorgeously adorned in comparison with British or American canons. Intricate iron work covers the canons in lovely patterns.
And the view from the highest of the partitions isn’t unhealthy, both. It was my favourite spot exploring Castillo de San Marcos Nationwide Monument.
The Previous Metropolis Gates
In 1808, rising mistrust between the newly based United States and Spanish Florida led to the creation of defensive partitions round St. Augustine. The Previous Metropolis Gates are situated on the north finish of St. George Avenue. The gates have been the one entrance into the settlement when the partitions have been accomplished.
The Previous Metropolis Gates are maintained by the Nationwide Park Service as part of the nationwide monument. A portion of the unique defensive partitions stretches between Florida Freeway A1A and Castillo de San Marcos beside the gates.
Greatest Time to Go to
There’s a motive why Florida is named “The Sunshine State.” St. Augustine is graced with over 300 days of sunshine every year, so there isn’t a flawed time to go to the Castillo de San Marcos.
However sure occasions are higher than others.
Summer time temperatures exceed 90 levels with excessive humidity and frequent thunderstorms. Throughout these months, it’s best to keep watch over a climate alert app and carry a pocket-sized rain jacket.
The very best time to go to the Castillo de San Marcos Nationwide Monument is spring and autumn. Throughout these months, the temperatures common round 70 levels with clear skies and low humidity.
Admission into the nationwide monument is $15 per individual and is sweet for seven consecutive days. The America the Stunning annual go grants free admission for the passholder and three friends.
St. Augustine maintains a parking zone in entrance of the Castillo de San Marcos Nationwide Monument. Nevertheless, getting a parking area in that lot is like getting an affordable tv on Black Friday. The lot not often has empty parking areas, and a protracted line of tour buses making stops provides to the problem. Solely automobiles shorter than 21 ft are allowed – usually a crew cab pickup truck.
The Historic Downtown Parking Facility behind the St. Augustine Guests Middle is the very best place to park whereas visiting the nationwide monument. It’s a 15-minute stroll alongside metropolis sidewalks from the parking storage to the nationwide monument’s entrance. Guests can safely cross the busy four-lane freeway through the use of a pedestrian crosswalk at Fort Alley.
RVs, trailers, and automobiles over 21 ft can use the free metropolis parking zone on the nook of West Castillo Drive and Riberia Avenue. It’s about one metropolis block behind the Historic Downtown Parking Facility.
Contemplating that Castillo de San Marcos was constructed within the late 17th century, the fort is remarkably accessible for many guests. The town parking zone and the primary degree of the fort are accessible. This contains the ticket sales space, sally port, inside rooms, reward store, and theater.
The place to Keep
St. Augustine has an abundance of lodges, condos, and rental houses. The alternatives begin with budget-friendly choices close to Interstate 95 and undergo the roof with luxurious choices within the coronary heart of the historic district. Listed here are some choices if you wish to spend a couple of nights whereas exploring the Castillo de San Marcos Nationwide Monument.
Days Inn is a surprisingly snug budget-friendly possibility. The motel options free on-site parking, an out of doors swimming pool, and an on-site IHOP restaurant. Select from rooms with two full beds or one king mattress. Reserving.com | Expedia | Accommodations.com
La Quinta is a superb budget-friendly possibility in St. Augustine. The lodge includes a good out of doors swimming pool and free on-site parking. Select from rooms with two queen beds, one king mattress, or a collection with a king mattress and a sleeper couch. Reserving.com | Expedia | Accommodations.com
High quality Inn is awkwardly situated beside a busy intersection, but it surely’s nonetheless a terrific budget-friendly possibility. The motel options free on-site parking and a pleasant out of doors swimming pool. Select from rooms with two queen beds or one king mattress. Reserving.com | Expedia | Accommodations.com
Vacation Inn is situated alongside the busy four-lane US Freeway 1 – domestically known as Ponce de Leon Boulevard. The lodge just isn’t fairly strolling distance to the Castillo de San Marcos. The lodge options free on-site parking, an out of doors swimming pool, and an on-site restaurant. Select from rooms with two queen beds, one king mattress, or suites that embrace a sleeper couch. Reserving.com | Expedia | Accommodations.com
Hampton Inn can be situated on Ponce de Leon Boulevard a few 10-minute drive from Castillo de San Marcos. On-site parking is restricted and prices a further $10 per day. The out of doors swimming pool is good, however don’t anticipate a peaceable night with its situated beside the busy freeway. However the lodge options snug rooms and the very best complimentary sizzling breakfast. Select from rooms with two queen beds, one king mattress, or a studio with a king mattress and a sleeper couch. Reserving.com | Expedia | Accommodations.com
Greatest Western Historic Inn is related to Hampton Inn’s property. This lodge additionally prices $10 per day for parking and includes a boulevard-side swimming pool. Select from rooms with two queen beds or one king mattress. Reserving.com | Expedia | Accommodations.com
St. George Inn is situated on the pedestrian-only St. George Avenue one block from the Castillo de San Marcos. The luxurious rooms function balconies overlooking Orange Avenue with a view of the fort. Company should use the general public parking storage one block away and prices $12 per day. Select from immaculate rooms with two queen beds or one king mattress. Reserving.com | Expedia | Accommodations.com
Whereas the opposite premium lodges are inside strolling distance of the Castillo de San Marcos, the Vacation Inn Specific is inside strolling distance of the seashore. The lodge options loads of free on-site parking, a pleasant indoor swimming pool, and rooms with balconies. Select from rooms with two queen beds or one king mattress. Reserving.com | Expedia | Accommodations.com
Villa Victor is likely one of the finest lodges in St. Augustine. Situated on Florida Freeway A1A, the lodge is 4 blocks from the Castillo de San Marcos – a few fifteen-minute stroll. The lodge options on-site parking for a further $15 per day, an out of doors swimming pool, and on-site bar and restaurant. Select from rooms with two queen beds, one king mattress, or a collection with a king mattress and a sleeper couch. Reserving.com | Expedia | Accommodations.com