Exploring Castillo de San Marcos National Monument in St. Augustine, FL

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One hundred years after St. Augustine’s founding, English pirate Robert Searle sailed into Matanzas Bay. The pirates below his command killed 60 individuals, looted each constructing, and kidnapped one other 70 individuals 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.

Throughout the fort’s 200-year service historical past, it was owned by Spain, Great Britain, and the United States, stood guard via almost a dozen wars, and served as a jail for Revolutionary War and Civil War prisoners. But the masonry fort, constructed from an area stone referred to as coquina, was by no means captured in battle.

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument preserves the oldest masonry fort within the oldest metropolis within the United States.

1 South Castillo Drive, Saint Augustine, FL | 904 829-6506 | www.nps.gov/casa/index.htm

Brief History

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 will be one other fifty years earlier than the British based Jamestown. The solely threats got here from Native Americans and pirates, so the one defenses had been a collection of rickety wood forts.

But 100 years after St. Augustine’s founding, English pirate Robert Searle sailed into Matanzas Bay. Pirates below his command killed 60 individuals, looted each constructing within the settlement, and kidnapped one other 70 individuals for ransom.

Queen Regent Mariana of Spain ordered the Florida governor to construct a masonry fort. Castillo de San Marcos – Spanish for “Castle of Saint Mark” – was constructed from 1672 till 1695. Once 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 kind of limestone native to coastal areas world wide. The stone includes tiny seashells higher 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. And then, in 1740, John Oglethorpe sailed from Savannah to siege the fort. Throughout the a long time, the coquina partitions held, and St. Augustine was by no means captured.

In 1763, the French and Indian War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. Spain was compelled to cede West Florida to Great Britain. The British lastly took command of the fort and renamed it Fort Saint Mark – the English translation of the unique identify.

But simply twenty years later, in 1783, the British had been compelled to return Florida to Spanish management on the finish of the American Revolutionary War. The Spanish reinstated their identify for the fort. But Floridians weren’t content material to stay below 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. War Department took possession of Castillo de San Marcos in 1821 and maintained a small garrison and jail within the fort. In 1825, the War Department renamed it Fort Marion after Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion. In 1900, the fort was decommissioned.

In 1924, Fort Marion and close by Fort Matanzas had been declared nationwide monuments. Although the National Park Service was created in 1916, the War Department maintained the 2 nationwide monuments till they had been transferred in 1933.

Finally, in 1942 an act of Congress reinstated the unique identify of the nationwide monument – Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. It’s the oldest masonry fort within the United States that was by no means captured in battle – however nonetheless modified possession thrice all through its historical past.

Did You Know? The Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest construction in St. Augustine, accomplished in 1695. But the González-Alvarez House is the oldest home. The home’s first ground was accomplished in 1727, and the ultimate type seen in the present day was completed in 1790.

NPS App

The NPS App is the official app of the National Park Service. The app takes all the knowledge accessible 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 National Monument web page within the app contains self-guided excursions, park motion pictures, and interactive maps.

Download the free app for iOS or Android.

Every journey on the Castillo de San Marcos begins with a stroll throughout the dry moat surrounding the fort.

Top 5 Things to Do at Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

  1. Take the self-guided strolling tour of the fort’s inside and canons alongside the wall – choose up a brochure on the ticket sales space or use the NPS app map.
  2. Stick round for a historic weapon demonstration with muskets or canons
  3. Explore the inside rooms of the fort, together with the jail cell the place Revolutionary War heroes had been held in solitary confinement
  4. Enjoy the view of St. Augustine from the fort’s partitions
  5. Go for a stroll across the perimeter of the fort to the Old City Gates
Peek into the barracks, one of many inside rooms open for exploration.

Castillo de San Marcos Self-Guided Walking Tour

The greatest solution to discover the Castillo de San Marcos is with the self-guided strolling tour. The tour is accessible via the NPS Park App. The tour begins on the sally port – or entrance into the fort – and passes via 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 via the rooms to reply any questions.

Canons from varied time durations wrap the wall of the fort overlooking the town and bay.

Artillery Self-Guided Walking Tour

The unique design of Castillo de San Marcos didn’t embody an elevated platform alongside the fort’s partitions. But 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 Walking Tour is an interesting exploration alongside the fort’s perimeter. Almost 40 canons, mortars, and howitzers line the partitions overlooking St. Augustine and Matanzas Bay.

Spanish canons are gorgeously embellished in comparison with British or American canons. Intricate iron work covers the canons in stunning patterns.

And the view from the highest of the partitions isn’t dangerous, both. It was my favourite spot exploring Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.

It takes about ten minutes to stroll from the Castillo de San Marcos entrance to the Old City Gates.

The Old City 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 Old City Gates are positioned on the north finish of St. George Street. The gates had been the one entrance into the settlement when the partitions had been accomplished.

The Old City Gates are maintained by the National Park Service as part of the nationwide monument. A portion of the unique defensive partitions stretches between Florida Highway A1A and Castillo de San Marcos beside the gates.

Best Time to Visit

There is a purpose why Florida is called “The Sunshine State.” St. Augustine is graced with over 300 days of sunshine every year, so there isn’t a mistaken time to go to the Castillo de San Marcos.

But sure instances are higher than others.

Summer temperatures exceed 90 levels with excessive humidity and frequent thunderstorms. During these months, it’s best to regulate a climate alert app and carry a pocket-sized rain jacket.

The greatest time to go to the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is spring and autumn. During these months, the temperatures common round 70 levels with clear skies and low humidity.

Admission Fees

Admission into the nationwide monument is $15 per particular person and is nice for seven consecutive days. The America the Beautiful annual move grants free admission for the passholder and three company.

Parking

St. Augustine maintains a car parking zone in entrance of the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. However, 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. Only autos shorter than 21 ft are allowed – usually a crew cab pickup truck.

The Historic Downtown Parking Facility behind the St. Augustine Visitors Center is the most effective place to park whereas visiting the nationwide monument. It is a 15-minute stroll alongside metropolis sidewalks from the parking storage to the nationwide monument’s entrance. Visitors can safely cross the busy four-lane freeway through the use of a pedestrian crosswalk at Fort Alley.

RVs, trailers, and autos over 21 ft can use the free metropolis car parking zone on the nook of West Castillo Drive and Riberia Street. It’s about one metropolis block behind the Historic Downtown Parking Facility.

Accessibility

Considering that Castillo de San Marcos was constructed within the late 17th century, the fort is remarkably accessible for many guests. The metropolis car parking zone and the primary stage of the fort are accessible. This contains the ticket sales space, sally port, inside rooms, present store, and theater.

Where to Stay

St. Augustine has an abundance of inns, condos, and rental houses. The selections begin with budget-friendly choices close to Interstate 95 and undergo the roof with luxurious choices within the coronary heart of the historic district. Here are some choices if you wish to spend a number of nights whereas exploring the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.

Budget

Days Inn is a surprisingly snug budget-friendly choice. The motel options free on-site parking, an outside swimming pool, and an on-site IHOP restaurant. Choose from rooms with two full beds or one king mattress. Booking.com | Expedia | Hotels.com

La Quinta is a wonderful budget-friendly choice in St. Augustine. The resort includes a good outside swimming pool and free on-site parking. Choose from rooms with two queen beds, one king mattress, or a set with a king mattress and a sleeper couch. Booking.com | Expedia | Hotels.com

Quality Inn is awkwardly positioned beside a busy intersection, nevertheless it’s nonetheless an excellent budget-friendly choice. The motel options free on-site parking and a pleasant outside swimming pool. Choose from rooms with two queen beds or one king mattress. Booking.com | Expedia | Hotels.com

Moderate

Holiday Inn is positioned alongside the busy four-lane US Highway 1 – regionally referred to as Ponce de Leon Boulevard. The resort just isn’t fairly strolling distance to the Castillo de San Marcos. The resort options free on-site parking, an outside swimming pool, and an on-site restaurant. Choose from rooms with two queen beds, one king mattress, or suites that embody a sleeper couch. Booking.com | Expedia | Hotels.com

Hampton Inn can be positioned on Ponce de Leon Boulevard a couple of 10-minute drive from Castillo de San Marcos. On-site parking is restricted and prices a further $10 per day. The outside swimming pool is sweet, however don’t count on a peaceable night with its positioned beside the busy freeway. But the resort options snug rooms and the most effective complimentary scorching breakfast. Choose from rooms with two queen beds, one king mattress, or a studio with a king mattress and a sleeper couch. Booking.com | Expedia | Hotels.com

Best Western Historical Inn is linked to Hampton Inn’s property. This resort additionally fees $10 per day for parking and includes a boulevard-side swimming pool. Choose from rooms with two queen beds or one king mattress. Booking.com | Expedia | Hotels.com

Premium

St. George Inn is positioned on the pedestrian-only St. George Street one block from the Castillo de San Marcos. The luxurious rooms characteristic balconies overlooking Orange Street with a view of the fort. Guests should use the general public parking storage one block away and prices $12 per day. Choose from immaculate rooms with two queen beds or one king mattress. Booking.com | Expedia | Hotels.com

While the opposite premium inns are inside strolling distance of the Castillo de San Marcos, the Holiday Inn Express is inside strolling distance of the seaside. The resort options loads of free on-site parking, a pleasant indoor swimming pool, and rooms with balconies. Choose from rooms with two queen beds or one king mattress. Booking.com | Expedia | Hotels.com

Villa Victor is among the greatest inns in St. Augustine. Located on Florida Highway A1A, the resort is 4 blocks from the Castillo de San Marcos – a couple of fifteen-minute stroll. The resort options on-site parking for a further $15 per day, an outside swimming pool, and on-site bar and restaurant. Choose from rooms with two queen beds, one king mattress, or a set with a king mattress and a sleeper couch. Booking.com | Expedia | Hotels.com

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