Historic St Augustine Forts Worth to Visit in Florida

Forts in St. Augustine have a long and varied history, serving as both military strongholds and tourist attractions. The most well-known fort in the area is the Castillo de San Marcos to protect the city from pirate attacks.

Today, the fort is a popular tourist destination, with visitors able to tour the grounds and see views of the city from its walls.

Another notable fort in St. Augustine is Fort Matanzas to defend the city against Spanish invaders. The fort today is open to the public and offers tours that provide an insight into its history.

Forts in St. Augustine offer a unique look into the past of this historic city. These imposing structures have stood the test of time and continue to be popular destinations for both locals and tourists alike.

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

Castillo de San Marcos is a Spanish fort located in Florida. It was built in the 17th century and is one of the oldest fortresses in the United States.

It was also designated a National Monument and a World Heritage Site. Nowadays it is a popular tourist destination, and being close to the city center, it is a must-visit in St. Augustine.

Castillo de San Marcos history

Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry castle in the United States. Castillo de San Marcos has a long and interesting history. It was an important position in many wars, including the Seven Years’ War, the American Revolutionary War and the Seminole Wars.

Castillo De San Marcos St Augustine
Castillo de San Marcos Spain Aglez the City Guy

The fort was attacked and besieged many times. It was also used as a prison during the Civil War. It was an active military facility until 1900 when it was transferred to the National Park. The castle, which was used as a military base for a long time, now serves as a tourist attraction.

Castillo de San Marcos building material

This St Augustine fort is made of coquina, a type of limestone found in the region. Historic buildings with this type of wall can be seen in other castles in St. Augustine.

The walls are 24 feet thick at the base and taper to 18 feet at the top. There are many cannons in the walls of the castle. On Saturdays and Sundays, at 10:30, 11:30 and 01:30 pm, there are representative cannon firings and gun shows on gun deck. You can take a closer look as long as the weather permits.

Each floor has eight rooms opening onto a central courtyard, and these rooms were always used for storage, sleeping quarters and ammunition.

Castillo De San Marcos People
John McNeely Hudson
Castillo De San Marcos Firing Cannon
Castillo de San Marcos facts A&R Photography

On the ground floor there are barracks, warehouses, a powder magazine and a dungeon. On the second floor there is more living space, as well as a chapel and an open-air balcony overlooking the harbor. The walls also have battlements or arrow slits for firing guns and cannons.

The castle had four entrances, two on land and two in the water. The land entrances were crossed by suspension bridges over moats. The water entrances had heavy iron chains stretched across them to prevent enemy ships from entering the harbor.

In the 20th century, reconstruction took place under the supervision of the National Park Service. Parts of the castle that had been damaged over time had to be repaired and some parts had to be rebuilt.

In addition, new features were added to make the castle more structurally sound and better able to withstand attacks.

Castillo De San Marcos Cannon

Castillo de San Marcos tours

Today, at the Castillo de San Marcos, you can explore the castle’s many rooms and climb up to the castle for sweeping views of St. Augustine and the Bay of Matanzas.

The castle also houses a museum with exhibits about the history of the Castillo de San Marcos and its role in the defense of the city.

The Americans had previously named the fort after General Frances Marion and it was known as Castillo Fort Marion, but later it was decided to name the fort Castillo de San Marcos. Castillo de San Marcos is a fascinating piece of history in St Augustine, Florida.

Castillo De San Marcos Cannon Landscape
Fort St Augustine Lutfi Shedraway

The castle was built by the Spanish to protect their interests in the New World and has withstood many sieges over the years. If you are ever in the area, be sure to check out this magnificent landmark. The fort is located directly opposite the Pirate and Treasure Museum.

Fort Matanzas National Monument

Fort Matanzas National Monument is a Spanish fort located in the state of Florida. The fort was built to protect the city of St Augustine from attacks by the British.

It is one of the best preserved Spanish forts in the United States. The fort is open to the public and has a museum with exhibits about the history of the area.

Matanzas Castle history

The first recorded history of Matanzas Castle dates back to 1740 when it was built by the Spanish. The fort was built to protect St. Augustine against attacks from the sea.

In 1742, a British fleet tried to attack St. Augustine by sea, but was defeated in a bloody battle against the Spanish defenders of Fort Matanzas.

This victory cemented Spain’s dominance in Florida and ensured that Fort Matanzas would remain an important part of the city’s defenses for many years to come.

Fort Natanzas National Monument Cannon
Kelly Verdeck
Fort Natanzas National Monument Landscape
Kelly Verdeck

During the American Revolution, Fort Matanzas in Florida, a neutral territory, was used as a base by both British and American troops. After the war, Florida became a US territory and Fort Matanzas remained an active military installation until 1821.

After Florida became a US state in 1845, Fort Matanzas was abandoned by the army. This lonely structure was left to decay over time. In 1924, Fort Matanzas was declared a National Monument by the US government to preserve its history and architecture.

Fort Natanzas National Monument Outside
Kelly Verdeck

Where does the name Fort Matanzas come from?

The name Fort Matanzas comes from the Spanish word slaughter or massacre. The name was given to the fort by the Spanish after they massacred a group of French soldiers trying to invade Florida in 1740.

How to get to Fort Matanzas?

Fort Matanzas National Monument is located on Rattlesnake Island in the St. Johns River, just south of downtown St. Augustine. Today, Fort Matanzas is a popular tourist destination. Visitors can reach the fort by taking a ferry from the visitor center in St Augustine to Rattlesnake Island.

The ferry is active from Wednesday to Sunday and runs from 09:30 to 17:30. The ferry ride is free and takes about 10 minutes. Check with the tourist center in advance for up-to-date information.

Fort Natanzas National Monument Room 2
Fort Matanzas ferry from visitor center Kelly Verdeck

Things to know before visiting Fort Matanzas

When visiting Fort Matanzas National Monument, there are a few things to keep in mind to get the most out of your experience.

  1. Make sure to bring comfortable walking shoes as the fort is located on an island and there is a lot to see.
  2. Take some snacks and water with you as there are no food options on the island.
  3. Make sure to bring bug spray as mosquitoes can be a problem in this area.

If history interests you, Fort Matanzas National Monument is a place to consider on your visit to Florida. You can explore the fort’s rooms that were once used for various purposes, including the dungeons where prisoners were once held.

The St Augustine fort is a fine example of Spanish colonial architecture and the views from the waterfront are simply stunning. Visitors can also learn about the history of the St Augustine fort and how it played a role in protecting Spain’s interests in the New World.

If you are looking for an educational and enjoyable experience, be sure to add Fort Matanzas National Monument to your list of places to visit in Florida.

Fort Mose Historic State Park

Fort Mose Historic State Park is the first authenticated site of a free African-American settlement in what is now the United States. It was established in 1738 as a refuge for escaped slaves from Spanish settlements in Florida and Georgia.

Fort Mose history

In 1738, the Spanish established the colony of Florida and, soon after, built a series of forts to defend it. One of these was Fort Mose, located just north of present-day St. Augustine.

Why is Fort Mose important?

It was the first free African settlement in North America and served as a haven for slaves fleeing from the British colonies to the north.

Fort Mose State Park Gun Shot

In 1763, Florida was ceded to Britain by Spain and Fort Mose was abandoned. But two years later, when Britain lost control of Florida to Spain once again, Fort Mose was re-established as a refuge for slaves.

After the American Revolution, many slaves escaped from the southern United States and made their way to Florida, where they were welcomed at Fort Mose. In 1821, when Florida became a U.S. territory, Fort Mose lost its status as an official refuge for slaves.

Why was Fort Mose destroyed?

In 1822, a group of former slaves from Georgia founded a Free African town called Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose just north of St. Augustine.

This town prospered for a time but eventually declined; today, little is left of it except for some ruins which are now part of Fort Mose Historic State Park. It is a 10-minute drive from St Georgia Street.


These fortifications offer a glimpse into some of the country’s most important military history, providing an educational and entertaining experience at the same time.