Submitted by Hitty Gale
Castillo de San Marcos was built by Spain to protect the garrison town of St Augustine. As early as 1586, St Augustine was burned and plundered by the English pirate, Sir Francis Drake and burned again by pirates in 1688. In 1672, Queen Mariana of Spain authorized a stone fortification to be constructed to protect the military outpost.
The fort is built of Coquina, a rare limestone found on Anastasia Island, one of the barrier islands. Coquina is the Spanish word for “tiny shell” and that is what the stone is made of. Workmen quarried the stone on the island and barged it across the bay to build the Castillo. At one time, a moat was dug around the fort to help protect it. It was later filled in because the water was undermining the Coquina foundation.
Though many have tried, the fort has never been conquered by force. Only through diplomatic channels has the fort changed hands. After St Augustine was burned by the English in 1702, walls were built around the fort and the city.
During its long history, Castillo de San Marcos, has been home to soldiers from Spain, England and the United States. The interior rooms of the fort are covered with carvings made by men who were stationed there. It was a lonely existence. It flew a Confederate Flag during the Civil War.
The Trolley Car pulled up as we were leaving the fort and we started running to catch it before it pulled away. “Don’t Run…I will wait on you,” we heard the driver say over his loud speaker. That was somewhat embarrassing but we stopped running….and he waited.
In 1933, Castillo de San Marcos became part of the National Park Service.