Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

Saint Augustine Travel Blog

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From Jacksonville, we drove south on I-95.  After about 30 miles, we exited at exit 318 to connect with SR-16 East we made a right turn on San Marcos Avenue which became Castillo Drive/SR-A1A.  We turned left into the Castillo de San Marcos parking lot. 

At the admissions booth, I showed the park ranger my National Parks Pass...she looked at me then looked at my cousin...then I told the ranger that my cousin was my "sister".  The ranger informed us the pass was for "Families" (Spouses and children...NOT siblings).  But the ranger was cool and she let both of us in for FREE!  Without the pass, entrance for adults (16 years and older) is $6. 

St. Augustine was founded by the Spanish in 1565.
View of Castillo de San Marcos' grounds and St. Augustine Inlet from San Pablo Bastion
  After over 100 years of Spanish occupation of St. Augustine, construction of the Castillo began on October 1672 to protect Spanish interests in the New World.

We walked through the drawbridge entryway into Sally Port,  which was the only way to get in and out fo the coquina structure,  to a grassy courtyard at the center of the fortress.  Coquina is a type of limestone thousands of years old made from tiny clam shells.  We immediately climbed the steps to the upper gun deck.  From the gun deck we saw a great view of the fortress grounds, the city of St. Augustine, the St. Augustine Inlet, and the surrounding barrier islands.  Housed in the fortress' casements on the lower level are exhibits depicting 17th century life within the Castillo.

During special event, Castillo de San Marcos comes alive with period dressed re-enactors, weapons demonstrations, and I think cannon firing.  Check out for site information and calendar of events. 
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Symbols of peace and war
The Saint Augustine Lighthouse is just over 2 miles away from the Castillo de San we thought...why not?  From Castillo de San Marcos, we headed southeast on Castillo Drive.  We crossed the
Bridge of Lions onto Anastasia Island.  What drew us to the lighthouse was that we could climb to the top and get a 360 degree view of the Saint Augustine area.

Entrance to the lighthouse observation deck, museum, and grounds cost us each $8.  Construction of the lighthouse began in 1871.  The structure was completed in 1874.  The top of St. Augustine Lighthouse is 165 feet above sea level and there are 219 steps, equivalent to a 14 story building, to get up to the observation deck.  The stairs are see-through so you can see all the way to the bottom of the staircase.
Two girls and a cannon...need I say more?
Within the lighthouse, there are eight landings so that out-of-shape tourists, such as myself, can stop and take a breather. The lighthouse tower houses a functional first order Fresnel lens from 1874.    

In 1876, the Keeper's House was built.  Today, the brick-built Victorian Keeper's House houses a museum. Inside the Keeper's House are exhibits depicting life around the lighthouse, history of the lighthouse's restoration, findings of local maritime archaeology, and artifacts from U.S. Coast Guard Ponce Training Station circa World War II.  The St. Augustine Lighthouse and the adjacent Keeper's House are both on National Register of Historic Places.
View of Castillo de San Marcos gr…
View of Castillo de San Marcos' g…
Symbols of peace and war
Symbols of peace and war
Two girls and a cannon...need I sa…
Two girls and a cannon...need I s…
San Carlos Bastion of Castillo de …
San Carlos Bastion of Castillo de…
View of San Agustin Bastion the en…
View of San Agustin Bastion the e…
Drawbridge entrance to the fortress
Drawbridge entrance to the fortress