Castillo de San Marcos

IMG_2328Possibly the main attraction of St. Augustine is Castillo de San Marcos, the continental United States’ oldest masonry fort. It was built thousands of years ago by the Spanish, back when Florida was a part of Spain. It saw many battles from colonial sieges to the Second Seminole War, but you would not know it from the looks. The fort is still in excellent condition and is now a national park for visitors to explore and learn about the history. Andrew and I had to stop here when we were in St. Augustine for the weekend, and we loved learning all about the fort and St. Augustine’s past as well.IMG_4510

We found the fort very easy to get to, as everything in St. Augustine was pretty close by. There are  lots of public parking garages around for a price or free parking by the fort. You will have to get their early though, we did not see a spot when we got there around 11. The park is open from 9 to 5 every day and there is a $10 cost of admission for adults. It only takes two to three hours to explore, but we still found the cost worth it as there were so many neat exhibits. If you do not want to spend the money, you can walk around the fort and see the outside, but its a lot more fun going in as well as looking out from the top of it.IMG_2323You start by entering the fort through a drawbridge and into the inside of it. From here you can  explore the interior of the fort, including various rooms in the structure or venture up to the top. We pretty much made a loop inside the perimeter and looked at all the different exhibits on display. Each room was depicted as what it used to like whether it was the soldier’s quarters or a dungeon. It also gave background on what life was like for a Spanish colony in the various time periods, and then the history of it being taken over by the newly formed America. They had speakers that you could follow giving an in-depth history lesson, but we moved at our own pace and read about the various exhibits. There was also a lot of interesting information regarding how the fort was built. The walls are made of “coquina”, which is limestone made of broken seashells, which you could literally see fragments of in the walls! Who knew seashells could make such a sturdy structure. IMG_4531They perform a historic weapons once an hour most of the day. We saw this in the form of a cannon being fired, but apparently they do muskets as well. It was cool to see and hear these age old canons still working. It was very loud though so keep this in mind if you or someone you are going with would be bothered by it! After looking around the interior, we walked around the top of the fort where there were great views of the ocean and the town. It can get a little freaky for people who don’t like heights because there was barely a ledge around the interior of the fort and it was surprisingly high. There was a lot to see from that perspective though and there were even look-out towers for people to squeeze into. Unfortunately we were in St. Augustine on one of the coldest days of the year, so it was not very pleasant up there with the wind blowing at us. I thought it would be better to go in the winter, because I can only imagine how hot it gets there in the summer, along with lots of tourists. But we did find it not as enjoyable as expected with the cold because we were outside for over two and a half hours and could have used a break from the wind. I still would try to go on a cooler day than a hotter day, but keep this in mind if you are there on one of Florida’s few under sixty degree days. IMG_4521I really found Castillo de San Marcos to be such a fun and informative attraction, and I think people of all ages would get a lot out of coming here. There is so much history in St. Augustine and learning about the fort provides a lot of background for the era in which this area was formed. I’ll be detailing some other sights to check out in St. Augustine next, but this one should definitely be at the top of any list! IMG_4514Let me know if you have been to Castillo de San Marcos and if you liked it as much as we did! Or I would love to hear other recommendations for things to do in St. Augustine.