Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States, a monumental historic opportunity in St. Augustine located right off the western shore of Matanzas Bay. This historic fort, now offering self-guided tours, was first designed by Spanish engineer Ignacio Caza between 1672 and 1695. The 21-acres of fortress land was first built due to an apparent strong need for protection and defense for the Spanish claims in the New World, as the area was being attacked by Sir Francis Drake and Robert Searles even before the fort was built. A local island, Anastasia Island, was quarried for coquina, or shell stone, and the new fort was built to be strong and garnered a reputation of being unconquerable to this day.
The iconic area, with over 315 years of history, has been owned by the National Park Service since 1933 and provides not only an excellent learning opportunity, but some of the greatest city and seaside views off the Matanzas Bay possible. While here your group can explore numerous rooms that used to belong to various prisoners and soldiers, the large interior courtyard, and also the gun deck and drawbridge. Check to make sure you aren’t missing any of the regular daily programs or ranger-led tours while here, including daily exciting cannon firings and weapon demonstrations on the weekends. Learn the history of James Oglethorpe’s first attempt to defeat this fortress, and how his cannonballs were no match for the strong walls. Enjoy the oldest, arguably most beautiful, and the most informative historical experience St. Augustine has to offer here at Castillo de San Marcos.