The history here is that in 1669 the Queen Regent of Spain charged the new governor of Florida, Manuel de Cendoya, with the assignment of seeing that "adequate fortification" was constructed in St. Augustine as protection from pirate attacks. The Castillo de San Marco was built of coquina (compressed sea shells), like many of the buildings in the city. The fort was attacked, but the walls were so thick that there was little damage—
cannonballs made no impact because of the unusual consistency of coquina that absorbed the blast.
This fort changed hands five times. From 1565 to1763 it was held by the Spanish, and again from 1784 to 1821. The British period was from 1763 to1784. The Confederacy held it for 1 year, from 1861 to1862, and the United States held it from 1821 to the present. Construction started in 1672, making it the oldest masonry fortification in the U.S.
The fort stands in the middle of town next to the water. From a distance it looks quite massive. And up close it really is. There is considerable walking on this tour, which include steps. Tours are available at the fort, or you can walk it yourself using the brochures as your guide. There are cannons up top overlooking the water, where you will get a beautiful view of the area. Below, you go in and out of rooms that are hot, especially during the afternoon in the summer. The tour guide will give you the history of each room.
For the history buff this is probably quite interesting and unusual. But for someone whose interest in history is remembering what he or she had for lunch yesterday, this might not be the place for you. If you do go, I strongly suggest that you don’t visit the fort at the end of the day. It didn’t really have anything that held my interest, so my enthusiasm wasn’t too strong and all the walking seemed like miles. I wouldn’t suggest this attraction for most young children.