The massive Castillo de San Marcos was constructed in the seventeenth century (1672-95) to defend the ocean inlet that allowed entry into the bay of St. Augustine. In a previous blog (Goliad Expedition, March 20, 2015), I commented on how a fort I visited in central Texas had the same capsule-shaped corner watchtowers, as the fort in Puerto Rico, that serves as the marketing logo for Puerto Rico's marketing brochures. And here it is again---the capsule-shaped "appendage"! So what do all these forts have in common? They were built by the Spaniards, during their era of colonizing the new world!
The Castillo de San Marcos was not the first fort to be built at Saint Augustine. In fact, over the preceding 100 years, there had been nine wooden forts which had been built. However, the high, thick stone walls and numerous cannon of the Castillo de San Marcos was a much more impregnable and permanent fortress for the future security of Spanish Florida. Just a short distance from the stone fort, I was able to see remnants of some of the old wooden forts that it had replaced. The area in the foreground of this photo shows the location of the former moat---a body of water surrounding a fort---that used to be part of the defensive structure of the edifice.
I read that one reason the moat was drained, and is no longer maintained, was because the constant presence of water on the coquina stone blocks that make up the walls, was accelerating their rate of decomposition. Another benefit of having the moat drained, is that it increases the hiking/picnicking areas for visitors, as well as reduces the risk of mosquito infestation.
The fort and its grounds are maintained by the U.S. National Park Service, and as such draw thousands of visitors daily. Some may choose to enjoy picnicking and outdoor recreation on the waterfront property, without ever going inside the fort.
The fort is made of coquina (shell stone) that was abundant, and relatively easy to cut into building stones, at the time of its construction.
To find out more about this relic of our nation's past, visit their official website at www.nps.gov/casa/index.htm .
There isSO MUCH history on this part of the Florida coast, that it is even reflected in the name of the website, where you can learn about a myriad of near-by, historic locations. The website is www.floridashistoriccoast.com and you can also visit their page on Facebook. I learned in my Road Scholar program that most cities colonized by the Spanish are similar, because they were all built using a set of guidelines called, "The Ordinance of the Indies". The three main guidelines were (1) There would be a church adjacent to the port, and near the fort. (2) There would be a plaza adjacent to the fort. (3) The streets would be laid out in a grid---but angled for defense. The dwelling places that developed around the forts would be vernacular; that is, it is what is built without an architect or engineer. We learned that the "Vernacular Architecture" of a region is determined by three main factors: (1) The culture of the people who make the buildings. (2) The climate. (3) The available building materials.
I feel like I have a debt of gratitude to the country of Spain, for the role they played in colonizing America. That is because their rulers at the time of colonization, felt called to go out and explore the "New World", for the purposes of "God, Gold, and Glory". I am very thankful they put God FIRST, in their trinity of goals! This leads historians to say that St. Augustine is where Christianity was FIRST established, in what would eventually become the United States.This gigantic stainless steel cross in St. Augustine was erected to commemorate the site where the FIRST Franciscan missionaries arrived and established a Christian mission site. Therefore, I am using this image as a visual aid for my FIRST Place 4 Health ( www.FirstPlace4Health.com ) memory verse that says, "But seek FIRST his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33) . Using these words for my FIRST, and only, life verse, gives me "MILES OF SMILES"! Tricia