Exploring the Castillo de San Marcos of St. Augustine
As I mentioned in my post Exploring St. Augustine, Florida, we went to the Castillo de San Marcos and used our National Parks Pass to get in for free!
If you don’t have a National Parks Pass but love road tripping, exploring, hiking, picnicking, or history, I highly recommend you get one! Ours has come in handy on multiple occasions when we weren’t even expecting to use it. Here at the fort, we were able to get the whole family in free. Can’t beat that!
We crossed the draw bridge and stepped into the old world of history!
The Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the United States. It was designed by Spanish engineer Ignacio Daza, and took 23 years to build! Construction started in 1672 and was finally completed in 1695. The original walls still stand!
Interesting Fact: The material used to build the walls of the Castillo is a rare limestone called coquina. There are only two fortifications in the world built from coquina, and the other is Fort Matanzas National Monument also located in Florida.
Although it was the only material available at the time to build with, t turns out that coquina was a blessing in disguise for the early settlers. Coquina is porous, and this allowed incoming bombardments such as cannon fire and bullets to lodge into it instead of shattering the walls, like it would had the walls been made of stone or granite.
We were able to walk through the surprisingly large fort and most of it’s rooms. These included the Necessary Room (bathroom), the store rooms, living quarters, treasury, and more. We got to peek into the prison room, a stone room with no windows and rough floors.
The whole time we were walking around I kept thinking it would be so cold here, but then remembered maybe not too bad because it’s Florida. But who knows! I’m just glad I live with AC and heat!
The Castillo de San Marcos was built and founded by the Spanish, who defended it on multiple occasions from sieges by the British. Eventually, the British took possession of the Castillo in 1763 when they gained Florida in the Treaty of Paris and changed its name to Fort Saint Mark. Later in 1825 the United States possessed the fort and named it Fort Marion. In 1942, the United States Congress and National Park Service decided to honor its Spanish ancestry and history, and they changed its name back to Castillo de San Marcos.
Original weaponry from the fort were displayed throughout. Some of the larger cannons had the most beautiful and intricate details and designs on them. They were beautiful!
After exploring the lower courtyard and rooms of the fort, we ventured upstairs to walk around the top of the walls. We were able to see St. Augustine Lighthouse, the cities drawbridge, and miles of ocean from where we stood. Plus, a gorgeous view of St. Augustine’s city skyline.
For being over 300 years old, this fort was in great shape! Restoration efforts have been affect, and they have been doing a nice job keeping everything in tact. We were surprised how much you were able to actually see, touch, and walk into at this site. Other historic sites we have visited have more often than not been roped off or have had limited access, but the Castillo was a free reign tour of just about everything. It was awesome to read the history and get up close to everything.
I just loved these towers located at each corner. The one below was the largest and we were able to step inside. You can kind of make out Bubs in there!
The weaponry was seriously so pretty!
We all enjoyed our time at the Castillo de San Marcos! The kids, especially Bubs, were enthralled and excited to run along the walls and check out the towers. It was a great family-friendly attraction that didn’t take too much time (even though the Hubs and I could have probably stayed longer) and allowed us to learn and experience more of our nation’s history.
If you are ever in Florida, check out St. Augustine and the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument!
Also, check out my post about why we decided to take our Disney World trip and make it “Little.”