Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest stone fortress in the United States. Built in 1672, its name changed three times over the centuries.
- Castillo de San Marcos was built to protect the city of St. Augustine, Florida, which was part of the Spanish Empire at the time.
- St. Augustine was founded in 1565 on the site of a previous Native American settlement, Seloy. The settlement built nine wooden forts for protection after Sir Francis Drake and his fleet of 22 ships attacked the city in 1586.
- In 1668, English privateer Robert Searles burned the fort and the city to the ground. The governor of St. Augustine ordered a stone fortress be built, one which couldn’t be burned.
- Castillo de San Marcos is made of coquina stone. The fort sits on the coast, outside the city.
- In 1763, the English gained control of Florida and the fort, promptly renaming it “Fort St. Mark.”
- In 1783, the Spanish regained control and changed the name back to Castillo de San Marcos.
- In 1819, the United States received the fort and named it “Fort Marion.”
- Finally in 1924, the fort was made a National Monument and its original name was restored again. After more than 250 years of military service, the fort was closed.
- Privateer: a privately owned, armed ship/captain hired by a government to capture enemy property, especially during war
- Coquina: a rock made of very old shells hardened in limeston
Questions and Answers
Question: Who built the fort?
Answer: The Spanish engineer Ignacio Daza built the fort, but native people, many of whom were slaves, did most of the work.
See images of the fort.