Located steps away from Matanzas River and the Historic District off of St. George Street, the Castillo de San Marcos is perhaps the most important piece of St. Augustine’s vibrant history, because without this fortress, the city would not have survived into the modern day.
Constructed over the course of twenty-three years (from 1672 until 1695), The Castillo was designed by Spanish engineer Ignacio Daza and conquistador Pedro Menendez de Aviles as a way to protect St. Augustine against future invasion attempts. This impressive star-shaped structure, built from a stone called coquina—similar to limestone, but made from small, ancient shells that were bonded together over time—occupies two and a half acres of downtown St. Augustine.
The fortress features four angular bastions (named San Pedro, San Pablo, San Carlos, and San Agustin), as well as strategic places for cannons to shoot, multiple drawbridges, and a moat that could be flooded with up to a foot of seawater during high-tide. If any building in the United States could be described as being a castle right out of the history books, it would be the Castillo de San Marcos!
During its 205-year history as an active military base and prison before being decommissioned in 1900, the Castillo served under Spain twice, England once, the Confederacy, and the United States twice. Because of its historical significance to the United States, the fortress was made into a national monument in 1924. The Castillo went through several name changes during its tumultuous past; Fort St. Mark and Fort Marion were its names under the British and the United States respectively, until Congress restored its original name in 1942 in honor of its Spanish heritage.
Witness a Piece of History for Yourself!
Since 1933, the National Park Service has maintained the Castillo de San Marcos as a popular tourist destination in St. Augustine. Visitors can observe a fundamental part of American, Spanish, and English history up close, for a truly authentic Renaissance castle experience. Even if history isn’t your thing, you can glimpse breathtaking views of the glittering Matanzas River from the windows of the Castillo. No matter what your motivation is for visiting this ancient place, be sure to bring your camera!
People aged fifteen years-old and younger may enter for free, but they must be accompanied by an adult. The entrance fee for adults (considered to be people aged sixteen years-old and older) is a mere $10.00. There are very few tourist attractions that you can see for such a low price! As a bonus, the entrance fee is valid for seven consecutive days, so you can visit this historic place multiple times during your vacation to St. Augustine!
The Ocean Gallery is Your Ticket to an Awesome St. Augustine Vacation
At The Ocean Gallery, we know all of the ins and outs of St. Augustine, and we want to share them with you! Contact our reservation specialists to learn more about the Castillo de San Marcos and other St. Augustine attractions when you book your next great vacation with us!
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