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The oldest masonry structure of its kind in the continental United States, Castillo de San Marcos was built and constructed to guard the coastline against invasion. Take some time to wander around this massive fort that overlooks the sea on the St. Augustine coast. Walk through the numerous rooms that were once home to war soldiers and prisoners. Out on the large interior courtyard, you’ll see the gun deck and enjoy magnificent views of the city.
Constructed by the Spanish between 1672 and 1675, it was also used to defend the primary trade route to Europe and the Gulf Stream. Throughout its history, the many flags which have flown over it reflect the colonization of the New World and North America. All changes in occupation of the fort came about not by force, but through military agreements or political treaty. It was occupied by military forces for more than 250 years before being deactivated and taken over by the National Park System.
Made of a form of a shell stone called coquina quarried from Anastasia Island, the fortress is unique in North American architecture.
The only extant 17th century military construction in the country, it is an example of the bastion system of fortification.
The Castillo is a “walk-in” park. A visit to the Castillo is self-guided, with many ways to experience it. On-site brochures and maps guide visitors around. Explore the fortress by wandering through the fort’s casements and taking in the exhibits. Throughout the day, Park Rangers give a variety of interpretive talks on the history and culture of the Park. A video, shown every hour, features cannon and musket firing sequences as well as an outline of the Castillo’s intricate history. Re-enactors in period dress around the fort often give historical weapons demonstrations as well as presentations of the life and experiences of the colonists who lived there.