St. Augustine's Historic Fort

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by airynfaerie on February 2, 2010

One of the most stunning and popular sites in historic downtown St. Augustine is that of the Castillo de San Marcos, most commonly referred to as "the fort". This fort was built to better establish and defend Spain's new conquests in the New World. After St. Augustine was founded in 1565 and defended only by wooden forts for over one hundred years, this large stone for was finally built in 1672.

The construction of this fort is unique as it's made of coquina, which is a stone mixture of small shells found in the area. Construction lasted over twenty-three years and finally completed to boast a four-sided star-shaped fort with lookouts over the Matanzas Inlet. Over the years, several battles between the Spanish and English damaged the fort, which went through reconstruction. Trading hands between the two nations, and finally made an official property of the United States, this fort was used as a prison, look-out, and artillery stand.

Now guests can walk through time into the story of the fort. Enjoy a thorough walk around the spacious 20.5acre grounds. Pack a picnic for the hillside, or sit on the edge of the barrier wall and look out for dolphins in the Inlet. To enter the actual structure, pay the small admission fee and you'll be able to wander through the interior casements and exhibits. Tours are available daily, and even stick around for the evening cannon shot over the bay. See re-enactors in period dress giving visitors a taste of the atmosphere of the fort's history during colonial times.

One of my favorite times to visit the fort are during some of the holiday times. Each year between November and January, St Augustine hosts the "Night of Lights" where all the buildings and trees downtown are covered in white holiday lights. The hill at the fort fills up during the "night of LIghts" kick-off night when the light switch is turned on. Grab a blanket, thermos of hot chocolate and some friends and enjoy the view. Also during the Forth of the July each year the fort is the place of the big fireworks display put on for the city. Crowds gather all over town and on the streets which are closed to cars that day to view the amazing display.

• Open 8:45 AM to 5:15 pm daily
• Admission $6 (Children are free)
• 1 South Castillo Drive, St Augustine, FL 32084-3252
• (904) 829-6506
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
1 South Castillo Drive
St. Augustine, Florida
(904) 829-6506

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