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S -" Use this exploded armas you will find museums highlighting
i birds-eye view to help various chapters of the fort's long history. A
i you find your way as good place to start is the corner rooms next
you explore more than to the well. Restrooms are located under the
300 years of Florida arched stairway leading to the gundeck.
history. The layout After you finish exploring the rooms below,
that Spanish engineer make your way up the stairs and gaze out
Slnacio Daza created upon the waters of Matanzas Bay. From this
.- ----. for the Castillo de San commanding position, a garrison of Spanish
Marcos is simple and straightforward. This troops safeguarded St. Augustine during the
fortress is a hollow square with diamond- turbulent colonial era. Later English and then
shaped bastions at each corner, with only American troops also saw service here. All
- way in or out. In the bombproof store- stood watch faithfully over the land Juan
rooms that surround the central Plaza de Ponce de Le6n named,"La Florida."
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Outpost of Empire
V/nen me Brsn arracKeo
St. Augustine in the sum-
mer of 1740, they ex-
pected a quick and easy
victory. But they underes-
timated the strength of
the Casll o oe San
Marcos and the courage
of its Spanish defenders,
some of whom are shown
here responding to enemy
artillery fire from across
Maianzas Bay. Aner
besieging the town for 38
days the British gave up
and returned to Georgia.
Castillo de San Mar-
cos was for many
years the northern-
most outpost of
Spain's vast New
World empire. It is
the oldest masonry
fort and the best-pre-
served example of a
Spanish colonial for-
tification in the conti-
nental United States.
It anchored East Florida's defenses, which
extended northward to the St. Marys River,
westward to the St. Johns, and southward to
Fort Matanzas. It protected St. Augustine
from pirate raids and from Spain's major
rival, Great Britain, during a time when the
Florida-Georgia-Carolina coastline was an
explosive international battleground.
The roots of the Castillo's history reach back
to the years just after Christopher Colum-
bus's final transatlantic voyage, when con-
quistadores carved out a vast and wealthy
overseas empire for Spain, first in the Car-
ibbean and then on the mainlands of Mexico,
Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, and
Peru. Products of these tropical and moun-
tainous territories brought high prices on the
Continent, and Spanish galleons sailed
home laden with exotic dyes, sugar, tobac-
co, chocolate, pearls, hardwoods, and silver
and gold. These so-called "treasure fleets"
made Spain the most powerful and envied
nation in Renaissance Europe.
Thanks to the travels of Ponce de Le6n in
1513, Spanish navigators knew that the best
return route from Spain's rich Caribbean
possessions was along the Gulf Stream,
through the Bahama Channel, and past the
shores of Florida. The Spanish knew they
must defend this peninsula to prevent ene-
mies from using its harbors as havens from
which to raid the passing treasure fleets.
Spain claimed Florida through discovery by
Ponce de Le6n, but France gained the first
foothold there by establishing Fort Caroline
on the St. Johns River in 1564. Seeing this as
both a challenge to Spain's claims and a
menace to the treasure fleets, King Philip II
sent an expedition under Don Pedro Menen-
dez de Avil6s to eliminate the French threat
and establish settlements in Florida. It ar-
rived at the mouth of the St. Johns River in
After attempting unsuccessfully to board the
French ships anchored there, Men6ndez
sailed to a harbor farther south and estab-
lished St. Augustine as a base for further op-
erations. Almost immediately a French fleet
sailed south to attack. But the ships were dri-
ven southward and wrecked by a violent
storm and the mission failed. Realizing that
Fort Caroline would be lightly guarded, the
Spaniards marched north, captured the fort,
and executed most of the inhabitants. The
same fate befell survivors from the French
fleet, whom the Spaniards captured and
killed at an inlet 14 miles south of St.
Augustine. The episode gave a name to the
area: Matanzas, Spanish for "slaughters."
England became Spain's next contender for
Florida. The Spanish had watched the Eng-
lish warily ever since Sir Francis Drake at-
tacked and burned St. Augustine in 1586.
They became even more watchful after Eng-
lishmen settled Jamestown in 1607. British
pirates sacked St. Augustine again in 1668,
and this hit-and-run attack, followed by the
English settlement of Charleston in 1670,
caused Spain to build the Castillo de San
Begun in 1672 and completed by 1695, the
Castillo replaced nine successive wooden
fortifications that had protected St. Augus-
tine since its founding. The fort's command-
ing location on the west bank of Matanzas
Bay allowed its guns to protect not only the
harbor entrance but the ground to the north
against a land attack.
The Castillo's baptism of fire came in 1702
during the War of the Spanish Succession,
when the English occupied St. Augustine
and unsuccessfully besieged the fort for 50
days. The English burned the town before
they left, but the Castillo emerged un-
scathed, thereby making it a symbolic link
between the old St. Augustine of 1565 and
the new city that rose from the ashes.
To strengthen the defenses, the Spanish
erected new earthwork lines on the north and
F o S Augustine i
SDomingo San Juan
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west sides of St Augustine, thus making it
a walled cit.. M.latarizas Inlet, hiowe.er, P.as
still unfortified A-hen Gen. James Ogle-
thorpe's British troops from Fort Frederica in
Georgia attacked St. Augustine in 1740.
Again the Caslillo was besieged and
Maianzas Inlet blockaded. But the Spanish
did not waver during the 27-day Britisrh bom-
bardment. The attack also taught the
Spanish [he strategic value of Matanzas Inlet
and the need for a strong outpost there.
Consequently in 1742. the', completed the
present coquina tower.
In 1763. as an outcome of the Se..en Years'
iFrench and Indian) War. Spain ceded Florida
to Great Britain in return for La Habana,
Cuba. The British garrisoned Matanzas and
strengthened the Castillo, holding the two
forts through the American Revolution The
Treat', ot Paris of 1783. whichh ended the war.
returned Florida to Spain.
Spain held Florida until 1821, when serious
Spanish-Amencan tensions led to its session
to the United States. The Americans re-
named the Castillo Fort Marion and used it to
house Indian prisoners during the Seminole
War of 1835-J2 Confederate troops occu-
pied it briefly. during the Civil War and Indians
captured in Western military campaigns were
held there later on. It was last used during
Ithe Spanish-American War as a military
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The key dates at right,
arranged by century, are
important to the story of
the development of the
Castillo de San Marcos,
whose coquina walls are
silent reminders of Spain's
contributions to Florida
and U. S. history.
1513 Sailing from Puerto
Rico, Spanish discover
1565 Spanish found St.
Augustine and destroy
French at Fort Caroline
and Matanzas inlet.
1672 Ground is broken
on October 2 for Castillo
de San Marcos.
1695 Castillo de San
Marcos (curtain walls,
bastions, living quarters,
moat, ravelin, and seawall)
is finished in August.
1702 War of the Spanish
Succession pits Spain and
France against Austria,
Great Britain, and others.
Coastal Georgia missions
are destroyed by Carolin-
ians enroute to St. Augus-
Carolinians occupy and
burn St. Augustine but the
Castillo successfully re-
sists their siege.
1738 Spanish governor
at St. Augustine grants
freedom to runaway Bnritisn
slaves. Black families set-
tle at new town called Fort
1740 St. Augustine suc-
cessfully endures siege
by British, Georgian, and
South Carolinian forces.
Spanish attack and defeat
British Highland troops
camped at Fort Mose.
1740-42 Fort Matanzas is 1763 Peace of Paris
built to block southern gives Florida to Great Brit-
approach to St. Augustine. ain in exchange for La
1756-62 Fort Mose re-
built in masonry. Earth-
works at Mose extended
to complete northernmost
Castillo becomes known
as Fort St. Mark.
1783 Peace of Paris rec-
ognizes independence of
the United States and re-
turns Florida to Spain.
----1821 Spain-- cede Flrid
1821 Spain cedes Florida
to the United States.
1825 Castillo de San
Marcos renamed Fort
1924 Fort Marion and
Fort Matanzas are pro-
claimed national monu-
1933 Fort Marion and
Fort Matanzas are trans-
ferred by the War Depart-
ment to the National Park
Service, U.S. Department
of the Interior.
1935 National Park
Service begins exclusive
administration of both na-
1942 Original name, Cas-
tillo de San Marcos, is re-
open spaces, beautiful
patios and gardens, im-
and religious buildings,
and comfortable homes
-all suggesting an em-
phasis on the develop-
ment of an orderly, digni-
fied, healthy, and pleas-
ant environment. The
character of the city still
reflects its vibrant Span-
ish heritage. Right: The
oldest house in St. Au-
gustine, dating from
Spanish colonial days.
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