Fort Matanzas is about 15 minutes south of St. Augustine. It is a little known fort which saw relatively little action, although it was the site of a French massacre some 500 years ago, earning the Fort, and the inlet it was designed to protect, their names. The Fort traces its roots back to Spanish rule over this area and has been little more than an afterthought to the United States, Confederate naval ships tried to enter the area through the Matanzas outlet, but were stopped well shy of the fort. Having never been used in battle, the Fort was turned over to the National Park Service.
I visited the Fort on a detour as part of the Saint Augustine trip. If you want to read more about it, feel free to browse my Fort Matanzas page.
Fort Matanzas is 14 miles from St. Augustine on Hwy A1A. Fort Matanzas represents a very well-preserved masonry watchtower fort built by the Spanish from 1740 to 1742. The tall tower provided a perch to observe vessels approaching St. Augustine from the south, and the cannon blocked potential enemy advancements up the Matanzas River, the backdoor to St. Augustine. Free Ferry Service to the fort leaves every hour at half past the hour, 9:30 am -- 4:30 pm from the dock behind the visitor center. Tours generally last 45-50 min.
Although Fort San Marco was never taken in combat, a British attack on the city in 1702 resulted in the buildings of the town being burned before the British gave up on their siege of the Spanish defenders in the fort. This led to the realization that more fortifications were needed south of the city to warn of impending attacks from that direction.
As a result, Fort Matanzas was built 1740-1742 on a small island off Anastasia Island, located so it was out of range of cannonfire from any ocean-going British warships but still able to control the inside passage from attacking forces. Today, this National Monument contains a very nice area of 100 acres including salt marshes and barrier islands that is open to the public. We took a short ferry ride out to tour the fort before returning to the main part of Anastasia Island where we enjoyed some off-roading and sunbathing along the sandy beaches! This park makes for a pleasant visit because, unlike Fort San Marco, it is actually out of town and has more of a wilderness feel to it.
The name of the fort comes from the Spanish word for 'massacre', because it was near this spot in 1565 that an attacking force of 250 French Protestants from the Carolinas was massacred by the Spanish. The French had sailed south to attack the new settlement at St. Augustine but a storm carried their fleet past the city and they were shipwrecked at this spot along the coast.
The Spanish outpost fort was built in 1740 to guard the Matanzas Inlet and to warn St. Augustine of British or other enemies approaching from the south.
Park the car and take the free ferry to the fort. We got there too late, so we missed the ferry.
This fort is not the big one that is in St. Augustine, but a smaller one that is south of ST. Augustine.
It was constructed in 1742 and was Spain's last ditch effort to ward off British encroachments on St. Augustine.
You have to take a ferry to get here, but it's a short and very pleasant ride. Once off the ferry you are now on Rattlesnake Island. When I got of the boat, the first thing I saw was a really lonnnggg snakeskin. The fort has a great view of the river and there are a couple of people dressed in period costume to give you all the history of the Fort. One of the cannons that is on top of the fort is the original cannon!
There is also a very nice nature trail on the A1A side of the fort, I saw some gopher turtles there.
a ferry will take you over to the fort. We missed it, so we walked along the inner coastal. Pictured is a sign showing the layout of the fort. You can see the fort in the background.