Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida

by R Long
April 04, 2017

St. Augustine, Florida

The fort, Castillo de San Marcos, in St. Augustine in Florida is a great place to visit. The historic district is definitely touristy, but fun. There are many people walking around and visiting the sights. Trollies are constantly traveling up and down the streets. The drivers are talking into bullhorns informing everyone about all of the interesting facts about St. Augustine and the fort.

st augustine pass front

The National Parks Senior Pass

The Marion Fort, or if you prefer the Spanish name, the Castillo de San Marcos, is a National Park and one of the main attractions. The fee to visit the fort is $15  per person. However, if you have previously purchased the senior pass., your entrance fee is waived. The fee used to be $10 for a senior over the age of 62. Today the senior pass is $80 for a lifetime or $20 for a year.

The lifetime pass will allow you along with 3 others to enter a national park with no fee. It is accepted at most National Parks as well as Federal Recreation Lands in the US. Having to spend less money is good so consider carefully if you want to get the senior pass. Depending on how many people are in your party, it may be best just to go ahead and purchase one.

Castillo de San Marcos, the Fort

There is a self-walking tour through the Castillo de San Marcos. There are many “rangers” around the grounds dressed in the period of the fort era to answer questions. The Spanish began construction on the fort in 1672. The British completed construction in 1784. There are over 400,000 blocks of coquina stone in the fort. Coquina is a limestone rock that is mainly composed of the skeletal remains of marine organisms.

Today it is against the law to use such rocks for buildings. However, when the fort was built, it was the best rock for construction. Since the rock is soft, it absorbed the impacts of cannon balls striking the fort. It was difficult to destroy the fort as the walls absorbed the impact rather than allowing the walls to shatter.

St. Augustine Fort

The Castillo de San Marcos was built to protect St. Augustine.  Over the years it traded hands between the United States, Spain, and Britain many times. There were about 500 men who lived and worked in the fort.  There are not many rooms as it was built for defense. The canons atop the fort are placed such that there is always more than one canon covering any one area. It is amazing that the larger canons could hit an object 3 miles away while the smaller cannons had a range of 1.5 miles. The accuracy of the canons was astounding.

St. Augustine Fort cannon

The fort’s history is extraordinary. It encompasses over 340 years of history and culture of the United States. Although you can see the renovations of the fort throughout the years, we can appreciate the final result. Today it appears as it would have in 1784 when it was completed. It is fascinating that at one time about 1500 individuals, including soldiers as well as civilians were housed inside the protective wall of the fort for 51 days. By today’s standards, it is impossible to think that so many people were in such a relatively small space.

Time To Eat!

Restaurant in St. Augustine

After touring the Castillo de San Marcos, walk around the city. You can hop on and off the trolleys as you head downtown with the other tourists to enjoy St. Augustine. Soon it is time to eat. La Pavillon is a French restaurant within walking distance of the fort. The food is delicious as well as reasonably priced. You will not go wrong with a day of sightseeing and a delicious meal before heading home.

A day spent in St Augustine touring the Castillo de San Marcos will not be forgotten.

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