Construction of the Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States, was started in 1672 by the Spanish to protect St. Augustine from the encroaching British colonies to the north.
It replaced a series of nine wooden forts constructed during the
first 100 years of the colony. The present floor plan is a result
of "modernization" work done in the mid 1700s. Although the Castillo has served a number of nations throughout its history, it has never been taken by military force.
During the 18th century, the Castillo went from Spanish control to British and back to the Spanish, all by treaty. The Spanish remained in power in Florida until the area was purchased by the United States in 1821. Called Fort Marion at this time, the Castillo was used by the US army until 1899. The Castillo was made a National Monument in 1924 and became part of the National Park system in 1933. In 1942, Congress restored the original name. The park consists of the original historic Castillo fortress itself with its attendant grounds, some 25 total acres.
Throughout its history, the Castillo de San Marcos has been closely intertwined with the city of St. Augustine and the neighboring structures which served as the city's outer defenses for many years - Fort Mose to the north and
Fort Matanzas to the south. The Castillo and St. Augustine serve as outstanding reminders of the might of the early Spanish empire in the New World.
Matanzas, located 14 miles south of St. Augustine, is also a National Monument. A ferry takes visitors across the Matanzas River to the historic fort.
Scheduled Ranger Programs are offered year round. Special Living History events are also scheduled throughout the year. On most weekends, cannon and/or musket firing demonstrations are presented at the fort. There is no visitor center in the park, but museum exhibits are maintained within the casemates of the Castillo.
Adults (age 16 and above) - $6. Good for 7 days.
Children - Free
From I-95: Take the exit for St. Augustine Historic Sites and Downtown (Route 16, Exit 318). Follow Rt. 16 to US 1. Turn right on US 1 for two miles to Castillo Drive. Turn left on Castillo to the traffic light. Turn right at the light. The Castillo and parking are ahead on the left.
From A1A: The Castillo is located on A1A in downtown St. Augustine.