Castillo de San Marcos

The Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest stone fortification in the continental United States and one of the most beloved landmarks of St. Augustine. Built of coquina from Anastasia Island, it succeeded nine wooden forts that had previously stood at the entrance to Matanzas Bay. In 1669, following Robert Searles’s attack on St. Augustine, Queen Regent Mariana of Spain ordered that stone fortifications be built to better protect this presidio from maritime attack.

The Castillo was designed by engineer Ignacio Daza. The first stone was laid in October of 1672. Indigenous laborers as well as laborers brought over from Havana, Cuba built most of the Castillo. The first construction period lasted from 1672-1695. The fort was built with four bastions, a ravelin, and a glacis. Its moat was dry. In the 1730s, the casements (rooms) of the Castillo were given new vaulted ceilings.

The incredible nature of coquina meant that the Castillo de San Marcos would never be taken by force. Though it traded hands several times, this was done by treaties or receipts on slips of paper. The fort housed British troops during the American Revolution as the Treaty of Paris of 1763 ceded Florida to Great Britain.

When Florida became an American Territory, the fort had fallen into disrepair. Americans called the Castillo Fort Marion after Francis Marion, a Revolutionary War hero from South Carolina. Congress appropriated funds to bolster this fortification, for it was still needed. The United States Army used this as a holding facility for American Indian prisoners in three separate periods. In the 1830s, Seminoles were held here, the 1870s saw Plains Indians held captive here, and the 1880s saw tents constructed on the terreplein to hold Apache prisoners.

Today the Castillo de San Marcos, so renamed, is run by the National Park Service and open for tours seven days a week.

Castillo de San Marcos.

19 thoughts on “Castillo de San Marcos

  1. Pingback: A Long Line – Governor's House Library

  2. Pingback: Pirate Attack : Drake and Searles Raid St. Augustine – Governor's House Library

  3. Pingback: Colonial Craft in St. Augustine – Governor's House Library

  4. Pingback: What’s In a Name? : Castillo de San Marcos – Governor's House Library

  5. Pingback: Coquina: St. Augustine’s Stepping Stone – Governor's House Library

  6. Pingback: Lost and Found – Governor's House Library

  7. Pingback: Locked Away – Governor's House Library

  8. Pingback: A Brush with the Historic Colors of St. Augustine – Governor's House Library

  9. Pingback: A Tale of Two Ortegas – Governor's House Library

  10. Pingback: Florida’s First Hispanic Families – Governor's House Library

  11. Pingback: Vecinos en San Agustin (Neighbors in St. Augustine) – Governor's House Library

  12. Pingback: Defending the Presidio : Night Watch – Governor's House Library

  13. Pingback: Dating . . . Historic Buildings with Governor’s House Library – Governor's House Library

  14. Pingback: Life and Livelihood: The Waterways of St. Augustine – Governor's House Library

  15. Pingback: Casa de Juan de Rivera | Ribera House – Governor's House Library

  16. Pingback: First Day of Issue: August 28, 1965 – Governor's House Library

  17. Pingback: Walls and Roads: From Bayfront to Avenida Menendez – Governor's House Library

  18. Pingback: Mariana De Austria: The Queen Behind The Castillo De San Marcos – Governor's House Library

  19. Pingback: Don Manuel de Cendoya: The Governor Behind The Castillo De San Marcos – Governor's House Library

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s