~CASTILLO de SAN MARCOS~


National Monument

The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument sits on the west shore of the Inland Waterway separating St. Augustine from the Anastasia Island. The city of St. Augustine was founded in 1565, forty-two years before Jamestown, and for over one hundred years it was defended by wooden forts. In October 1672 construction began on the fort that would become the Castillo de San Marcos.
The walls you see today are the original coquina rock walls built at that time. The coquina was quarried on Anastasia Island and very effective at absorbing the impact of cannon shot, allowing very little damage to the walls themselves. During its long storied history the Castillo has been occupied by Spain, Great Britain, Spain again, The United States, the Confederate States and finally the United States during and after the Civil War.
Amazingly, the Castillo was never taken by force, but was turned over to a new country through treaty or seige. In fact, the lone union soldier on duty at the fort at the beginning of the Civil War refused to surrender San Marcos to the Confederacy until the Cammander gave him a receipt for it.
The designation National Monument was bestowed upon the Castillo in 1924 and it became part of the National Park system in 1933.



Entering the Castillo the wall of rooms across the court yard is the first thing a visitor sees. The center room with the arched entrance is the Chapel of St. Mark. Walking in and looking right the wide expance of stairs to the second level and the gun positions comes into sight.


On the left are more rooms, which were used for quarters, storage and the Chapel. On right are spare cannon barrels.


The Castillo was square in shape with a diamond shaped bastion on each corner. These bastions allowed for continuous crossfire upon attackers. The bastion in the photo is St. Charles' Bastion. At right is a cannon in firing position. These cannons had a range of over a mile, and protected the Castillo from attacks from both land and sea.


This triangular structure protected the only entrance to Castillo de San Marcos from direct attack. The mortar on the right provided indirect fire on enemy positions. Its range was 1.2 miles. This particular mortar was captured by the United States during the Spanish-American War in 1898. It is part of the Yale University Art Collection and was loaned to the Castillo indefinitely in 1971.

A front view of the mortar.

Mortars and cannons along the wall

The Courtyard from the upper level

Looking from one bastion to another

Across the Inland Waterway to Anastasia Island

Looking north along the waterway

St. Pauls Bastion

St. Peter's Bastion

St. Augustine's Bastion

The stairway from the upper level


On the left is a reconstructed portion of the Cubo Line of Defense, a log wall that extended from the Castillo past the City Gate to the San Sebastian River. On the right is part of the Northern Defense Line. These earthworks provided defense from land attack from the north. Water and marshes provided natural protection from other directions. These defenses are part of the reason that the castillo was never taken by force.

One of the volunteer actors on coffee break

Young visitor in a museum room

Lookout tower on St. Augustine's Bastion



The views from the lookout tower of the St. Augustine Bastion looking generally north, east and south from left to right.

Cannon barrel closeup

Tower on St. Paul's Bastion

Spanish crest above the entrance

Cannon barrel detail

A passageway between two rooms
The Americans changed the name of the Castillo to Fort Marion in 1821, in honor of General Francis Marion of Revolutionary War fame, and structurally changed little else of the fortification. The old storerooms with their heavy doors and barred windows were converted to prison cells.
Throughout the American Territorial Period, Seminole Indians were jailed within the Fort, among them Osceola in 1837, and this foreshadowed later events with the imprisonment of the Kiowa, Cheyenne, Comanche, Arapahoe, and Apache Indians captured in the west during America's push toward her " Manifest Destiny " during the 1870s and 1880s.


These photos of photgraphs are actual depictions of the Indains imprisoned at San Marcos. In the words of a Government official the purpose was "to banish the most notorious offenders to some remote eastern fort." Many of the Indians were conscripted into military service. I suppose that was the original draft.

Indian children were educated here

The Chapel of St. Mark

An Icon receptacle

Enlisted barracks


The actors provide historical information to tourists about San Marcos when not performing

The only well in the fort after 1740

Confederacy, Second United States period
The six different flags that were flown over Castillo de San Marcos

Second Spain period, First U.S. period

Burgundy Cross of Spain, Great Britain



Music is "1812 Overture"
by Petr Ilich Tchaikovsky

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