Explore the Distinctive Architecture of the Castillo de San Marcos
Built in the 17th century, the Castillo de San Marcos covers over 20 sprawling acres of land and is filled with a rich 450 year history that has withstood the test of time. Once you step into this National Monument, you’ll find yourself transported back to the Colonial era, surrounded by an imposing fortress built of the unique and beautiful coquina limestone. Over 400,000 blocks of coquina stone were used to construct the Castillo—all cut and set by hand.
After the Castillo de san Marcos’ first siege by the British in 1702, construction began to strengthen the the fortress. Interior rooms were enlarged and ceilings were arched to bombproof the rooms and provide overhead support for the cannons. The vaulted ceilings enabled heavy garrison guns to be placed all around the perimeter of the gun-deck. The enhancements also caused the walls of the Castillo de san Marcos to be heightened from 26 to 35 feet making the fortress even more commanding.
Possession of this coveted St. Augustine fortress changed six times throughout history. All transitions were peaceful and spanned four different governments including the Spanish Empire, the Kingdom of Great Britain, the Confederate States of America and the United States of America. Spain and the United States both held ownership twice. The Castillo de San Marcos was besieged three times but was never taken by force.
A unique feature of the Castillo de San Marcos are the Spanish guard rooms. Soldiers did not live inside the Castillo during Spanish occupation. Instead, they commuted from their homes in the nearby town and utilized these rooms during overnight guard duty to rest, cook meals and occupy their spare time playing games and socializing.
Spend your time at the Castillo watching re-enacters in period costumes giving a historical weapons demonstration, perusing the many informative exhibits, listening to Park Rangers talk about the history and culture of the Castillo or wandering the beautiful grounds. St. Augustine’s Castillo de San Marcos is an adventure you and your family won’t soon forget.