Back in 1954, we made our first visit to the Castillo de San Marcos. I was 16 and had just gotten my driver's license. I hope you will enjoy these historic photos.
Fondest memory: Since it was an important site, we may have visited the Castillo more than once. The sun appears to be in different positions (the bridge over the moat is in shadow in one picture, and in sun in the next photo). My father documented the visit with photos, which my sister and I had to pose for.
The moat had water in it. And I am apparently wearing shorts which is another thing that has changed since then.
Castillo de San Marcos is the only extant 17th century military construction in the country and is the oldest masonry fortress in the United States. The Castillo and Fort Matanzas are the only two fortifications in the world built out of a semi-rare form of limestone called coquina. Coquina turned out to be a a good choice for building a fort, although the Spanish only used it because it was all that was available to them.
The NPS website says:
Because of its conglomerate mixture coquina contains millions of microscopic air pockets making it compressible.
A cannon ball fired at more solid material, such as granite or brick would shatter the wall into flying shards, but cannon balls fired at the walls of the Castillo burrowed their way into the rock and stuck there, much like a bb would if fired into Styrofoam. So the thick coquina walls absorbed or deflected projectiles rather than yielding to them, providing a surprisingly long-lived fortress.
The coat of arms shown on the Castillo wall in the first photo is a simplified version (lions and castles) of the Royal Coats of Arms of the Kingdoms of Castillo and Leon which combined to make modern Spain. The picture is of a replica stone - the original is displayed in the museum area.
The second picture shows part of the Sally Port Gate which hung for 100 years at the fort entrance. They were replaced by the drawbridge reconstruction in 1959.
Fondest memory: At the time we were here, I didn't know my grandson's trick for finding the bathrooms from the outside of a castle or fort. Photos 4 and 5 show the Castillos' latrines or necessaria from the inside. They are located under the stairway to the gun deck. There would have been outhouse-type seats (no longer existing), and the waste would have fallen into pits below. Then, as the tide changed, there would be automatic flushing twice a day!
Photo 3 shows a well (or Pozo) - the sign on it says "After 1740, this well was the only source of water inside the fort." Hopefully not contaminated by the necessaria, although the flushing water for that would have been salt or brackish water.
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