Castillo de San Marcos - St. Augustine, FL
From Fort Matanzas south of St. Augustine, we went to St. Augustine and its national monument.
Castillo de San Marcos is a child's dream come true. The castle has a moat, thick walls, courtyard and lots of rooms to explore. And firing cannons.
The Castillo (the castle of St. Marcos) was built by the Spanish to protect their interest in Florida. This fort was built of coquina, limestone of shells and sand. It was their tenth fort; the others were built out of wood and didn't survive. But with this material, the enemies' cannonballs just bounced off the walls. They started building this fort in 1672 and didn't finish until 1695. It is star shaped which is difficult to see from the ground but that means there are no blind spots when sentries patrolled on the roof.
The Fort was never conquered. It withstood all attacks. Still, it went from the Spanish to the British in 1763 at the end of the French and Indian Wars. Another treaty returned Florida and therefore the fort back to Spain in 1783. But by now, Spain couldn't really control its territory and in 1821 ceded Florida to the U.S. Lots more history occurs there - see the website for details - until it becomes a National Monument in 1924.
Castillo de San Marcos is in the center of St. Augustine, just outside the walled part of the city. You can check out the rooms, see a movie, go to a ranger talk. And you can watch volunteers dressed as Spanish military fire a cannon.
Because I was a volunteer in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I noted that the park volunteer who roved at Castillo de San Marcos didn't have to wear the heavy buttoned-down shirts like I have to. She had a polo shirt and a sun hat with a wide brim instead of a ball cap - much cooler.
Quite by accident, Garrison Keillor and his Prairie Home Companion show were in St. Augustine on Saturday evening. We listened to some of the program driving home today (Sunday). He didn't focus on the historic significance of the city, just the condos around the town. He was funny!