In my last post about our vacation trip to Saint Augustine, I want to share some pictures and information about Castillo de San Marcos – Saint Augustine’s Spanish fort!
Castillo de San Marcos protected the harbor to Saint Augustine. According to the National Park Service, the fort is the only extant 17th century military construction in the United States and the oldest masonry fortress in the country. The fort uses a bastion system of fortification with the diamond-shaped corners for cannons. It was a very cool thing to visit!
If you have visited to Florida, you know that there isn’t a lot of stone to work with in the state. When the Spaniards built the fort, they used a limestone call coquina. At first, limestone would seem a poor choice for a fortification, but the porous nature of the coquina had a profound effect on the durability of the fort. Instead of shattering like a harder stone, the coquina simply absorbed the cannon balls. The National Park Service analogy was that it was like shooting a BB into Styrofoam!
Saint Augustine had a moat around it and the moat extended to the fort. The city gates weren’t very far from the fort and were locked each night at 8 pm. If you weren’t inside the gates by then, you spent the night outside. Talk about enforcing a curfew!!
From this picture, the fort is off to the left. It takes maybe a couple of minutes to walk from the gates to the entrance to the fort.
The courtyard view of the fort shows the numerous rooms and offices enclosed by Castillo de San Marcos.
This courtyard served as a training ground, recreation area, and staging area for equipment during battles. The rooms housed the armory, infirmary, storage, the treasury, officers quarters, and barracks for the soldiers. I spent time floating around the world on a submarine, so I can relate to the cramped sleeping arrangements the soldiers had!
As you can see, not the most comfortable sleeping arrangements, but I guess it beat sleeping on the ground.
Cannons at Castillo de San Marcos:
As I mentioned, the fort guarded the entrance to the harbor. Looking out from the ramparts, you can see the ocean beyond the land. Quite a view!
Imagine if you were on a ship trying to attack Saint Augustine. The cannon in the picture is one of many that could be trained on you and bombard your ship from 6 miles away! Speaking of cannons, here is one of the cannons in the courtyard.
I think this is a 16 pounder, meaning it shot a 16 pound cannon ball. That would make a really big hole in your ship!
Here is another cannon mounted on the wall of the fort and pointed toward the ocean. To give you some idea of the size of the weapon, Aidan and Maggie (yes, the inspirations for the characters in The Gemstone Chronicles) are standing next to one. Pretty impressive!
There you have our visit to Castillo de San Marcos and Saint Augustine. I couldn’t show you everything we saw and did and there is so much more we could have seen. Overall, though, we had a ball! We may have to schedule another trip down there to cover some of the things we missed (like zip-lining over the alligators at the Alligator Farm)!
Where did you go on your summer vacation and what did you see? Leave me a comment and let me know! I might have to add it to my upcoming vacation plans!!