Straddling the ocean and grandly spanning several acres in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, the Castillo de San Marcos draws thousands of visitors each year in an effort to educate tourists about Florida’s history.
The construction of the oldest masonry fort in the United States began in 1672 at the hand of Spain, which at the time claimed Florida as its own. Later, under British and then American possession, the site’s name changed to Fort St. Mark and Fort Marion, respectively, but Congress restored its original name in 1942.
The locals, though, simply call it “the fort.”
Used as a military prison throughout the late 19th century and later taken off of active duty after more than 200 years of service, the fort served under five different flags by the time it was declared a National Monument another 20 years later.
Its textured history is a standing illustration of the changing of hands and battles fought over the state’s destiny, and ultimately, the country’s as well.
Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean on “Florida’s First Coast,” the fort is open to the public for a $7 entry fee.
Surrounded by the charm of historic St. Augustine, heralded “the oldest city in the U.S.” because of its founding by Pedro Menendez de Aviles in 1565 and continuous European occupation afterward, the fort is a short drive from the beaches of St. Augustine and Jacksonville, as well as a brief walk from popular old-town shopping experiences, restaurants and tourist attractions.