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Castillo de San Marcos





Location: 11 South Castillo Dr, St. Augustine, Florida    Map

Constructed: 1672

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Description of Castillo de San Marcos

Castillo de San Marcos or Castle of Saint Mark is situated at 11 South Castillo Dr, St. Augustine, Florida in United States. The city of San Agustín was founded by Spain in 1565. During its first century of existence, nine wooden forts defended the position. After the attack of the English pirate Robert Searle in 1668, it was decided to build a stone castle to protect the city. The construction of Castillo de San Marcos began on October 2, 1672 by the Spanish army when it was part of the Spanish Empire.




Castillo de San Marcos is a star shaped fortification built with coquina, a variety of limestone. The workers were brought from Havana, Cuba. The coquina was extracted from Anastasia Island, on the other side of the bay, and taken on boats to the construction site. In 1695, after twenty-three years of hard work, the fortress was ready.

In 1670, the English founded Charles Town (today, Charleston, South Carolina) just two days sailing from San Agustin. In November of 1702, forces under the command of the governor of Carolina James Moore went to conquer the city of San Augustin. The 1200 residents of San Augustín resisted the attacks sheltered inside the castle for two months, together with the garrison of some 300 soldiers.

The English artillery was not effective against the walls of the Castillo de San Marcos, thanks to the coquina, which proved very effective in absorbing the impact of the bullets, and a fleet from Havana forced the British to burn their ships, to prevent them from captured, and retreat by land. Before setting out they set fire to the city, which was largely destroyed.

After the site of 1702, Castillo de San Marcos was rebuilt under the direction of engineer Pedro Ruiz de Olano. The interior was redistributed and the wooden roofs were replaced by stone vaults. The walls were increased by two meters.


In 1739 the War of the Seat broke out. General James Oglethorpe put back the castle and blocked the mouth of the Matanzas River, hoping to surrender it with a continuous bombardment. However, a small Spanish ship was able to evade the blockade and give notice to Havana, from where supplies were sent. At 38 days the English ended the siege without having managed to surrender the castle.

To protect Castillo de San Marcos from future dangers and avoid the siege by land, the need to protect the entrance to San Augustin through the Matanzas River was seen. To this end, the Fort Matanzas (in English: Fort Matanzas National Monument) was ordered to be built, which prevented future incursions by land against the Castillo de San Marcos.

By the Treaty of Paris (1763), which ended the Seven Years' War, Great Britain obtained Florida in exchange for returning to Spain Havana and Manila. The Castle lost its strategic importance until the American Revolution. San Agustin became the capital of the British colony of East Florida. The fortification was improved as a base of operations of the British army in the south and was used as a prison.

With the Treaty of Paris (1783) and the end of the War of Independence of the United States, Florida was returned to Spain.

The Spanish sovereignty over Florida only remained until 1819, when by the Treaty of Adams-Onís Florida it was ceded to the United States. In this period the castle did not star in any act of weapons.

The Americans renamed the Castillo de San Marcos to Fort Marion. There were few changes, although some warehouses were transformed into cells, which were used during the Seminole wars.


In January of 1861, Florida separated from the United States as part of the Civil war. The garrison left the fort and the Confederate army occupied it without a single shot. The artillery was dismantled and sent to other places, leaving the castle defenseless.

The castle and the city were recovered by the warship USS Wabash that entered the bay on March 11, 1862 without encountering resistance. The castle continued to be used as a military prison throughout the 19th century. In 1900 it lost its military condition and in 1924 it was declared a national monument. In 1942, he recovered the original name of «Castillo de San Marcos».




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