Castillo de San Marcos, Saint Augustine

4.5 out of 5 stars 52 Reviews

1 South Castillo Drive 905 829-6506 (ext 234 rangers)

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  • TexasDave's Profile Photo

    Living New World History

    by TexasDave Written Jul 1, 2008

    Visiting this old Spanish fort, started in 1672 and enlarged several times, is like stepping back in history. You can wander all over the upper walls and down into its storage rooms. Regular tours are given by the Park Rangers. Besides being a Spanish Military fort built to protect ships coming and going via the Gulf Stream, it was used by the US government as late as the mid 1800's as a 're-education center' for difficult native American Indians moved here from the Midwest.
    Entrance is $6 adults, under 15 free.

    On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays local volunteers dressed as Spanish soldiers fire off a cannon several times a day(see my video).

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    Dont miss it.

    by deaglos Written Jan 3, 2008

    This is a great old fort, and even if you dont want to pay to go inside, can comb the park grounds outside and get a greaet view and fantastic history.
    Even a geocache on the grounds for those that collect them.

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    Gunfire from the Fort

    by DEBBBEDB Updated Oct 21, 2007

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    This was a fort constructed by the Spanish between 1672 and 1695. The fort was built of coquina, a type of shellstone and is on 25 acres in downtown St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest continually occupied European settlement.

    Of primary interest to our children was the soldiers dressed in appropriate clothing who fired the fort guns

    I see that there is a separate Castillo San Marco area on VT, so I'm also going to write a tip there. This is the executive summary for visiting the fort.

    Open to the public from 8:45 AM to 4:45 PM every day of the year except December 25. The grounds are closed from midnight to 5:30 am.

    Fees: Admission price for adults is $5.00; children age 6-16 $2.00, and under age 6 Free. All children must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

    Cannons on the fort wall
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    Castillo De San Marco

    by sweetchica323 Written Jul 30, 2007

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    Real old and defiantly worth a visit.. but dont go forking out your money right away for a tour... dont get me wrong its defianlty worth a visit, but im very...cheap... so take a walk around the fort first, alot of it you can see for free... if after that you want to do more, then go for it... keep you eyes open on the bay for some jumping dolphins.... of yeah, dont park there.. park do the road at the visitors center and walk there...trust me

    castillo de san marco castillo de san marco castillo de san marco castillo de san marco castillo de san marco
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    castillo de san marcos

    by doug48 Written Apr 21, 2007

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    the castillo de san marcos is probably the most visited and most interesting of st. augustine's attractions. located on 20 acres on st. augustine's harbor the castillo was built in 1672. it is the oldest masonary and the only extant 17 th century fort in north america. the castillio was built to protect spain's interests in the new world. the castillo de san marco was attacked on numerious occasions but was never conquered. later in the 1800's the castillo was used as a prison. the seminole chief osceola was imprisoned here.

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    lasted the ravages of war and time....

    by davecallahan Updated Feb 26, 2007

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    What was amazing about the structure that sits right on the main highway along the beach front of St. Augustine is its endurance.
    It is natural to think that a fort can endure the ravages of war. Strength and good construction and a design that provides adequate protection from many angles.
    But it also has withstood the ravages of attack by wind, weather and salt spray for over 300 years. It needed to be constructed of a fabulous material that mother nature provided (coquina) that was quarried nearby. Ingenious.
    And even more important, it has withstood the ravages of modernism and city growth. Other cities might have removed the monument (and kept a few pieces in a museum) and turned the land into motels and beachfront property. Only through the good fortune of being placed on the National Parks list saved that from happening.

    The day we were there was very breezy and one got cold standing on the parapets. We walked around the whole perimeter (on two levels: the grassy knoll on which it stands and the parapet walls that surround the fort). There was no way that we could penetrate the defenses without canons. Inside, on the parapets, we could see three directions and support the flanks of the other points along the fort walls.
    Inside was cool and damp. There were the usual things that forts have in their museums: guns, swords, shells, maps, clothing, personal trinkets, etc. The outside of the fort was more interesting.

    There are scheduled events (sadly none while we were there) for raising the flags and firing the guns and marching the troops in full old-time uniforms of the Spanish. See the official website listed below for more info.

    an interesting, non-official look at the fort can been seen on website:
    http://www.myfloridatrips.com/st_augustine/fort.html

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    Notable Battles & Historical Displays

    by NC_Ziggy Written Jan 20, 2007

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    In these pictures are a few of the historical depictions and artifacts used in past centuries in the name of God and Queen or King, I suppose. These are housed in the lower level of Castillo and in looking at some of the weapons, I'm sure glad we've found more humane ways of killing each other these days! This reminds me of the old saying, "The more things change, the more they remain the same."

    Choose Your Weapon! 1702 1740 A Pistol Sharpshooter? Some Teeth Need More Dental Attention Than Others
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    Who Knew Seashells Could Make a Fort?

    by NC_Ziggy Written Jan 20, 2007

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    Yes, My Friends, those seashells that you collected as a child and made it hard to walk on at the beach without looking like "Uncle George" doing the hot step, were also incorporated into a unique form called "Coquina". Though it's offically called sedimentary rock, it looks like seashells poured together to me! It must be good stuff however to have survived the attacks and hurricanes for several hundreds of years.

    You'll also see here the Coquina Towers that at each corner of the bastions. The tallest of the towers is the one closest to the inlet for obvious reasons. Though it was January, it was still very warm on the morning that we visited and standing inside the tower brought a cool and refreshing breeze to bear upon you. How do you spell relief?

    Consider Building Your Home with Durable Coquina! Towers Can Be Phallic Symbols, Too! 15th Century Air Conditioning in Here!
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    Ka-BOOM!

    by NC_Ziggy Written Jan 20, 2007

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    As you will see in the accompanying pictures, Castillo was well fortified. As a matter of fact, it appears that the cannon in the first picture has you in its sights! You might want to be pulling and waving that White Flag about now... I'm just sayin'...

    Various sizes of cannon and mortars are strategically placed around the perimeter. If you look closely, you'll see the founding date of 1724 on the mortar shown. A working cannon (less the cannonball) is fired several times each day during a re-enactment. I can only say that I hope during battle the artillerymen moved with a bit more enthusiasm and sense of urgency... I'm just sayin'...

    Make My Day! Mortar with Periphet Looking Like a Shot Imported Goods Everywhere You Look! You Hold Your Ears, I'll Take the Picture!
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    They Just Don't Build 'Em Like This Anymore!

    by NC_Ziggy Updated Jan 20, 2007

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    Like many things & places in American History, there are both noble accomplishments and events that sully otherwise proud moments. So it is also (in my opinion) for Castillo de San Marcos. What began proudly as construction commenced in 1672 and completed in 1695 remained a bastion of Spanish dominance in the early history of what later became the United States of America.

    This stately fort is located in St. Augustine, Florida which is recognized as the oldest continuously existing city in the U.S. Especially notable for Castillo is the fact that though besieged and attacked many times, it was never captured or overtaken. This is the noble accomplishment mentioned above. It's possession changed from Spanish to British rule due only to a treaty concluded in 1763.

    It's "less than" noble moments (in my opinion) came during the periods Castillo was used as a prison for Native Americans. First, the Seminoles in 1837 and later as the U.S. government's persecution and domination of the Western Indian Tribes continued. Apache Indians were also imprisoned here in 1886 as well as prisoners of the Spanish-American War.

    We are fortunate that this monument of historical proportions still exists for us to visit and see today. While in St. Augustine, a trip to the Castillo de San Marcos is a must!

    Castillo de San Marcos Tourists Attacking Castillo An Historical Figure Using a Cell Phone??? The Inland Side of Castillo
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  • The Old Spanish Fort

    by peach93 Written Jan 11, 2007

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    El Castillo de San Marcos is St. Augustine's most recognizable, and its largest, landmark. It was built in the 17th Century, mainly as a way to protect the city from pirate invasions, which were common at the time and quite dangerous. The fort sits by the sea right in front of the Old Town and is today a U.S. National Park.

    For $6 you can go inside the fort and explore, and your ticket is good for a whole week. The lower section contains several rooms that were used for sleeping and storage. There is also a prison and a chapel. The upper part of the fort is where the cannons are located as well as the towers, some of which you can go inside of and check out.

    The view from the top of the fort is excellent, but you have to be careful up there because there are no railings.

    El Castillo from a Distance The Fort's Dry Moat The View from the Fort's Top Antique Spanish Cannon
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    The clash between cultures

    by BLewJay Updated Sep 13, 2006

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    On our first full day in Orlando, we decided to head over to St. Augustine and visit the Castillo de San Marcos. The Castillo was for many years the northern-most outpost of Spain's vast New World empire (built to protect and defend Spain’s claims in the empire). Though caught in the whirlwinds of colonial warfare and intrigue, it was never defeated in battle. It is the oldest masonary fort and best preserved example of a Spanish colonial fortification in the continental United States. So take a step back in time and enjoy the history of the United States.

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    The fort! Castillo de San Marcos

    by baybreezin78 Written Jul 10, 2006

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    This is truly amazing..it is the oldest standing European fortification in the continental US. Built between 1672-1695 to protect the Spanish empire. You can walk through the dungeon and imagine what it must have been like!

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    Castillo de San Marcos

    by grandmaR Updated May 7, 2006

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    I first visited the Castillo de San Marcos in 1954 when my parents and I drove down to Florida.

    In December 2000, the soldiers on the fort fired the fort guns (toward us in the anchorage) we thought of waving a white flag !!! (see Castillo de San Marcos Intro page for a film picture of this)

    When we came back in March 2001, the fort was closed for renovation, and was still closed the following fall, so I had only seen it from the water until January 2005 when we drove to St. Augustine by car and visited the Castillo

    The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is the oldest remaining European fortification in the continental United States. It is on 25 acres in downtown St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest continually occupied European settlement. Open to the public from 8:45 AM to 4:45 PM every day of the year except December 25. The grounds are closed from midnight to 5:30 am.

    Fees:
    Admission price for adults is $5.00; children age 6-16 $2.00, and under age 6 Free. All children must be accompanied by a responsible adult. Senior U.S. citizens who have a National Park Service Golden Age Pass, holders of the Golden Access, Golden Eagle, and National Park Pass are admitted free, as are members of their immediate family as defined on the card's reverse side. All passes are sold at the fee booth.

    We used the Golden Age pass to get in for free.

    Fort from anchorage-digital photo Courtyard Looking down from the top onto the moat Lines of Defense Sign about the lines of defense
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    Castillo de San Marcos

    by goingsolo Updated Apr 2, 2006

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    The Castillo is a rather large structure, built by the Spanish empire to protect its first settlement here at Saint Augustine. Here you can tour the original fortress and learn about the changing empires which once ruled it. The fort swiched occupancy between the Spanish and British before being ceded to the United States along with the rest of Florida. During the civil war, the fort was occupied by the Confederacy, although no key battles were fought here. In fact, the fort was never occupied by force at any point during its history.

    The fort was constructed in the late 1600's. Unlike previous forts which were made of wood, which doesn't work so well in Hurricane country, the Castillo was constructed on coquina shells. The shells bonded with the rock and formed a type of limestone. This fortification protected not only against the elements, but canon fire as well. In the 1700's, the British siezed the city of St. Aug, forcing citizens and soldiers to seek shelter within the fort. Canons were fired but the walls did not crumble.

    There is a separate charge to tour the fort and see the original fortress, although you can walk around the structure outside the entrance gate for free. Its an impressive structure worthwhile stop on any tour of St. Aug.

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