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Fort Matanzas National Monument in St. Augustine Florida

Fort Matanzas National Monument St. Augustine, Florida

Located off AIA on Anastasia Island slightly south of downtown St. Augustine is a beautiful national park with trails, large shady trees and plenty of tables and grills for picnicking.  The main attraction here is the Fort which is located across the bay.  A short boat ride is required to get there.  Entrance is free but you must make sure to pick up your tickets at the visitors center.  It is first come, first served.  Boats leave several times a day and the park staff who is friendly and very knowledgeable love to answer questions.

Boat to Fort Matanzas

While waiting for our boat road across the bay we splashed at the sandy shore and watched an enormous amount of tiny crabs do their dance.  It was pretty funny.  I wish I had taken a video.  There are many sandbars all throughout this area making boating and other water related recreational activities the ideal.  We saw many small boats, kayaks and jet skiers too.

Once there the tour guide told us about the Fort’s history and what it was like for the first soldiers to live there.  After that you are allowed to explore on your own.  There’s even a ladder leading to the tip top of the structure if you dare climb it.

Fort Matanzas Collage

About the Fort

This fort is an American Latino heritage site preserved to reflect and engage the diverse stories and communities of American Latinos throughout American History and for future generations.  Fort Matanzas has guarded America’s oldest city since 1740.  It was built to protect and provide advance warning of attacks.  Today it is one of our most treasured national parks.

The word matanzas means slaughter.  The river, bay and fort were all named after the execution of many French Protestant soldiers by Catholic Spaniards.  The founder of St. Augustine’s Ft. Matanzas National Monument was responsible for the execution of over 250 Frenchmen.

The Spanish maintained watch and control until an attack by English forces prompted them to build Fort Matanzas.  The Spanish Crown sent money and skilled workmen and masons were recruited in Cuba. These men were Cuban convicts, Timucua, Guale, and Apalachee Indians.  The material used to build the fort is coquina, a type of stone found on Anastasia Island.  Coquina is a type of limestone formed over thousands of years from the shells of the tiny coquina clam cemented together through time and nature into a solid yet soft stone.  To make the fort as sturdy as possible the walls were built 12 to 19 feet thick.  You will notice a common architectural feature of Spanish forts throughout the Caribbean, garita also known as sentry box.  The garita is usually located atop the walls or bastions at the corners.

Have you climbed Fort Matanzas National Monument in St. Augustine?

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