by VICTORIA HENLEY
Arguably the most defining and instantly recognizable lasting symbol of St. Augustine culture and history, the Castillo De San Marcos has stood steadfast in the heart of St. Augustine through countless and relentless periods of trial, change, and triumph.
Built between 1672-1695, the Castillo was erected by the Spanish as a fortress to protect their people and resources from the burgeoning threat of rival powers and pirates, who increasingly surfaced in attempts to obliterate St. Augustine’s people and resources.
Over 315 years old, the Castillo De San Marcos remains the oldest structure in St. Augustine, boasting a bold and viscerally stunning architectural aesthetic. The fort, which is made out of coquina stone (a type of sedimentary rock , specifically limestone, formed by the deposition and subsequent cementation of mineral or organic particles on the floor of oceans or other bodies of water at the Earth’s surface mixed with seashells) sits on an impressive, sprawling 20 acres of land, overlooking the breathtaking crystalline waters of the Matanzas River.
Proudly brandishing the title of the oldest, and largest, still-standing masonry fort in the United States, having withstood two sieges and 15 battles without defeat, the Castillo De San Marcos is truly a piece of living history.
Designed by Ignacio Daza, a Spanish engineer, by the order of the governor following a raid in 1668, the Castillo was built to not only withstand enemy raids, but also the tumultuous storms and hurricanes for which the area is known.
The ownership of the Castillo was transferred to the National Park Service in 1933, when it subsequently became one of the most popular and sought-after St. Augustine tourist destinations.
The Castillo De San Marcos offers endless educational opportunities within the confines of the sturdy fortress, including live demonstrations, costumed docents, informative lectures, carefully researched and curated reading materials, and much more.
A quintessential outing for school field trips, The Castillo De San Marcos offers engaging and highly interactive displays inside the fort, where visitors can walk inside the cavernous depths of “The Powder Room” – where ammunition was kept, prisoner’s quarters, sleeping areas, dining halls, and much more.
Lose yourself in the fort’s rich and wildly storied history and step back in time as you roam the breathtaking winding stone corridors through the vast expanse of the structure.
Make your way to the second level for unparalleled vantage points of the city’s amazing architecture, sparkling blue waters and gorgeous natural terrain.
Numerous real cannons are on display throughout the first and second levels of the museum and be sure to check the website and follow the Castillo De San Marcos on all major social media platforms for up-to-date information on exciting demonstrations and special events.
WEBSITE: www.nps.gov (search “Castillo De San Marcos”)
PHONE NUMBER: (904) 829-6506
Victoria Henley writes Backstage Pass for iHeart Radio and CTFashionMag.com