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Castillo de San Marcos

Explore one of the the oldest standing masonry forts in North America and watch cannons being fired from the ramparts.

Castillo de San Marcos is a vast stone fortress that has protected the town of St. Augustine since the 17th century. Stroll around the castle grounds and admire the sheer size of the building. Scan the walls for marks left by cannonballs and take a tour to learn about the many different forces that have occupied this fort over the ages. Enjoy stunning views over the river and watch a demonstration of ancient cannons being fired. 

The fort is St. Augustine’s most historically significant structure. Originally constructed by the Spanish between 1672 and 1695, it has changed little since its completion in 1756. It was built using locally quarried coquina, after Admiral Pedro Menendez de Aviles discovered that this type of rock absorbed the blast of cannonballs rather than crumbling. 

Explore the grounds and notice the many different elements of the castle’s design. The star-like layout ensured there were no blind spots for guards in the sentry boxes. Stand in one of the boxes and imagine keeping watch for enemy invaders. Make your way to the top for scenic views across the Matanzas River.

Learn more about the castle’s unique history by taking a self-guided tour or listening to one of the talks given by park rangers throughout the day. Listen to tales of sieges and fires and discover what happened when the British finally conquered Florida. Don’t miss the cannon firings, when these ancient weapons are set off by soldiers in period dress. Come on July 4 to see an even more spectacular show as fireworks light up the skies around the castle.

Castillo de San Marcos is open every day of the year except for Christmas Day. It is located a short walk east of St. Augustine’s town center. Parking is available for a fee. There is a small charge for entry, however children under 15 enter free. Please note that wheelchair access is limited in some parts of the castle. 

Popular Activities at Castillo de San Marcos

Get the most out of your time spent at Castillo de San Marcos. Here is a list of the best things to do:

Want to make your visit a bit more special? A St. Augustine & Pirate Museum Tour from Orlando and a Fort Matanzas & Old Downtown Helicopter Tour are both worth thinking about.

Peruse our St. Augustine things to do page to learn about even more activities while you're in the area.


Guide to Exploring Castillo de San Marcos


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Top Hotel Deals

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The Ponce St. Augustine Hotel C$103
The Ponce St. Augustine Hotel

The Ponce St. Augustine Hotel

1111 N. Ponce De Leon Blvd, St. Augustine, FL
     
    3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Situated in the historical district, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Limelight Theatre and Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. Castillo de San Marcos and Lightner Museum are also within 1 mi (2 km).

    Jaybird's Inn C$115
    Jaybird's Inn

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    2700 N Ponce de Leon Blvd, St. Augustine, FL
       
      3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

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      Casa Monica Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection C$223
      Casa Monica Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection

      Casa Monica Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection

      95 Cordova St, St. Augustine, FL
         
        4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        This family-friendly St. Augustine hotel is located in the historical district, steps from Government House, Lightner Museum, and Flagler College. St. George Street and Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine are also within 5 minutes.

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        St George Inn

        4 St. George Street #101, St. Augustine, FL
           
          3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

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          Southern Oaks Inn C$102
          Southern Oaks Inn

          Southern Oaks Inn

          2800 N. Ponce de Leon Blvd, St. Augustine, FL
             
            3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in the heart of St. Augustine, this motel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Old Florida Museum and Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. Castillo de San Marcos and Ripley's Believe It Or Not are also within 2 mi (3 km).

            Howard Johnson by Wyndham Historic St. Augustine FL C$107
            Howard Johnson by Wyndham Historic St. Augustine FL

            Howard Johnson by Wyndham Historic St. Augustine FL

            137 San Marco Ave, St. Augustine, FL
               
              2.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in the heart of St. Augustine, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Mission of Nombre de Dios and Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. Castillo de San Marcos and Lightner Museum are also within 1 mi (2 km).

              Days Inn by Wyndham St Augustine/Historic Downtown C$93
              Days Inn by Wyndham St Augustine/Historic Downtown

              Days Inn by Wyndham St Augustine/Historic Downtown

              1300 N Ponce De Leon Blvd, St. Augustine, FL
                 
                2.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Situated in the historical district, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Limelight Theatre and Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. Castillo de San Marcos and Lightner Museum are also within 1 mi (2 km).

                Best Western Bayfront C$167
                Best Western Bayfront

                Best Western Bayfront

                16 Avenida Menendez, St. Augustine, FL
                   
                  2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

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