Southern Forts Week: Castillo de San Marcos

11 04 2011

As we all inch into the summer months, I know you can relate when I tell you we’ve been busy. Planning weddings, attending them, new jobs, weekends away whenever we can sneak them — for our faithful readers out there, we want to say a big, heartfelt THANKS for staying with us when we could only eek out one post per week! But even though we’ve all got summers full of fun heading our way, we’ve also got a bunch of great posts and topics to talk about here on Sweet Iced Tea headed your way. So stick with us throughout the summer to see what we’ve got planned.

One of my favorite things to do is to act like a tourist in my own town. Visit the local Chamber of Commerce, get a handful full of brochures, and spend a random afternoon exploring a site you’ve always meant to do. Fresh off our Southern Islands series, we thought we’d feature just a few of the great Southern Forts this week. This is an excellent way to get your little ones (especially boys) interested in history. I think there’s something beautiful and majestic about a standing fort, and haunting the thoughts of all that took place there, as soldiers fought for their beliefs. So if you have a fort nearby where you live, check it out as soon as you get the chance.

Very few things in this country date back into the 1600’s. But the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine is a beautiful example of ancient Spanish masonry. For a time, under the British possession, this fort was called Fort St. Marks, and Fort Marion upon American occupation, but in 1942, Congress returned the monument to its original name.

This historic and stunning fort has a long and rich story that includes the Queen Anne’s War, blockades, changing hands from the Spanish to the British and back again, the American revolution, and even the War Between the States. It has been a fort, a prison, an artillary battery, and even a sort of school to teach Native Americans the English language, the first of its kind.

My favorite part about this star-shapped fort is the coquina walls — made of shells which have bonded together to form a sort of limestone. It was extremely effective in absorbing cannon-fire, and now stands as an intricate and beautiful reminder of the wars this fort has seen.

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