Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Ticket booth closes at 4:45 p.m.
The Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States, is a large Spanish stone fortress built to protect and defend Spain's claims in the New World. It is a National Monument, more than 315 years old, and is the oldest structure in St. Augustine.
History of Castillo de San Marcos
Construction began on the Castillo de San Marcos in 1672 and lasted 23 years until 1695. Many Spanish forts preceded the Castillo. However, this one made of coquina was impenetrable to enemy attack and was fire resistant.
The fort came under fire for the first time in 1702. British forces, led by General Moore, burned the city but could not penetrate the Castillo's walls. Subsequent attacks in 1728 and 1740 yielded similar results, and the British were never able to take the Ancient City by force.
In 1763, Florida became a British colony by signing the Treaty of Paris, thus beginning a 20-year period of English rule. The Castillo was used as a military prison during the Revolutionary War, and at one time it held three signers of the Declaration of Independence within its walls.
At the end of the Revolutionary War, Florida was returned to Spain in 1784 until Florida became a United States Territory in 1821. The Americans called the Castillo, Fort Marion, honoring the revolutionary patriot from the Carolinas, General Frances Marion. The U.S. Government used Fort Marion as a prison for Native Americans in the late 1800s. Natives from both Florida and the Great Plains were held at the fort during this time.
The fort was officially taken off the active list of fortifications in 1900 and was preserved and recognized as a national monument in 1924. Congress renamed the fort in 1942, reverting to the Spanish name, the Castillo de San Marcos.
Amenities at Castillo de San Marcos
Self-Guided Tours (free with admission)
Cannon Firings / Weaponry Demonstrations (free with admission) — Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m.
Camping, fishing, bicycles, and skating of any sort are prohibited. Check the Castillo's website for more details on what is permitted on and around the grounds.
Visit Castillo de San Marcos
Admission: $15.00 for adults ages 16 and above. Free for children ages 15 and under. Additional information and tickets may be purchased at the booth or the fort's website.
Address: 11 South Castillo Drive, St. Augustine, Florida 32084
Parking: There is a main parking lot in front of the monument. It is $2.50 per hour with automated machines on location. A parking garage, a block away from the site, is also available.