History of Castillo de San Marcos
The city of St Augustine was founded by the Spanish in 1565 with the arrival Pedro Menendez de Aviles. Other colonial settlements had tried to succeed in the New World of Florida, but none were successful except for the settlement in St Augustine. The early city, for the first one hundred years, was protected by wooden forts, nine of which were destroyed by some form of disaster. In 1668, the English pirate Robert Searle attacked the city, and it was this event that led the Queen of Spain, Mariana to decide that a masonry fort that could not be destroyed should be constructed to protect the city. In late 1672 construction began on the Castillo de San Marcos.
The Castillo de San Marcos was built of coquina stone brought in from nearby Anastasia Island, located just across the Matanzas Bay. Coquina stone is a beautiful type of stone that is literally made of tiny, ancient shells that have bonded together over time. Workers were brought from Cuba to construct the fort, and construction lasted 23 years; until 1695.
It was shortly after its construction was completed that this St Augustine Fort saw a skirmish. In November of 1702, British forces under Governor James Moore of the nearby British colonial settlement of Charles Town, attacked the city of St Augustine in an attempt to capture the settlement. Everyone in the city sought refuge at the Castillo de San Marcos and remained protected behind its walls for the next two months! In fact, the British cannons could do nothing to destroy the coquina rock. The Spanish arrived from Cuba, thus trapping Moore’s soldiers and ships, and made the British withdraw from the settlement. After this attempted siege, the Spanish redesigned and rebuilt many features inside the Castillo de San Marcos, thus perfecting their already successful St Augustine Fort, and again in 1739 they successfully thwarted an attempted attack by the British.
Facts about Castillo de San Marcos
The British did finally get to claim the Castillo de San Marcos as their own, but it was not by force or siege; it was actually a provision of the Treaty of Paris (1763) whereby Britain gained all of Florida in exchange for giving lands in Havana and Manila back to the Spanish. During the American Revolution, this St Augustine Fort served as a British prison where revolutionary fighters were kept. After the revolution, the Spanish declared war on Britain in 1779 and it was at the end of this war in 1784 that the Castillo de San Marcos was returned to the Spanish. In 1819 Spain signed the Adams-Onis Treaty, ceding Florida to the United States which made the Castillo de San Marcos St Augustine Fort a part of the United States Military Defense System.
After becoming a part of the United States, Florida seceded during the Civil War in 1861. The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument served several purposes during the Civil War and changed hands twice. After the Civil War, the Castillo de San Marcos saw another war, the Spanish-American War, where 200 deserters were imprisoned at the fort. It was not until 1900 that this St Augustine Fort was decommissioned and taken off active duty; in 1924 the Castillo de San Marcos was designated a National Monument, and in 1933 it became a part of lands managed by the National Park Service.
The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument was designed in the masonry star design and in 1975 it was recognized as a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers. It is one of the popular Attractions, and it is very close to another Fort, the Fort Matanzas National Monument. The Castillo de San Marcos occupies approximately 2.5 acres near downtown St Augustine and is a wonderful place to spend the day.
It is also possible to hold Outdoor Weddings here for a nominal fee. Interested in information on St Augustine Weddings? Our Bed and Breakfasts are great places to hold a beach wedding, yet should you want to get married at the Castillo de San Marcos we can successfully accommodate your Wedding party or rehearsal dinner party.
Interested in premier beach lodging? Learn more about our Bed and Breakfasts. Each one is unique and offers something special and different. Browse information on our member B&B’s. They are all conveniently located to the rest of the city. Plan your Florida Beach Vacation and learn more about places like the St Augustine Lighthouse, the Fountain of Youth Park, the Colonial Spanish Village, and the Old Jail. Contact us today.