Thursday, October 30, 2008

St. Augustine, Fort Matanzas and Castillo de San Marcos, Florida

We've arrived - The Sunshine State

Bob turned the BIG 70 on Wednesday Oct. 29th, and we “celebrated” by driving from Savannah, Georgia to St. Augustine, Florida. I promised to take him to the famous Columbia Restaurant, and am happy to report we made it. Although the original is in Ybor City (old Tampa), there are 5 Columbia restaurants in Florida. The original was started in 1905, I believe, and have been in business continuously all this time.

Bob's favorite - The Columbia Restaurant

While in St. Augustine, we stayed at the beautiful Anastasia State Park, right along the beach. Although we didn’t get a chance to walk the beach the day of Bob’s birthday, we did so the next morning. It was so windy, that even with Bob’s goggles, it was difficult for him. So we went off a short distance to visit Fort Matanzas.

The beach at Anastasia State Park

A very windy morning

Fort Matanzas is 14 miles south of St. Augustine. They ferry us over free of charge & give us a tour. The fort founded in 1740 – 1742 was Spain’s last effort to ward off British encroachments of St. Augustine. St. Augustine was founded in 1565 and is the oldest city in the United States.


Bob, checking out the weaponry

Fort Matanzas

Basically, this was the time in history when the French, British & Spanish were all trying to claim Florida as their own. Adm. Pedro Menendez de Aviles was responsible for removing the French & sailed from Spain with about 800 people, establishing St. Augustine.

Morning after the big day

They ferry us to the Fort

A little history

Memorial Marker

View of Fort Matanzas as we depart

When Jean Ribault sailed from France in September, they were shipwrecked. Menendez told the French Fort Caroline to the north had been captured & urged them to surrender. When the French were brought to the inlet, Menendez ordered them slain. From that time, the inlet was called Matanzas, the Spanish word for “slaughters.”

View for top of Fort Matanzas

After our return via ferry, we walked along the nature trail. A few pictures are included in the slide show at the end of this post.

This picture of a picture shows an aerial view of the Fort

Next, we drive into St. Augustine to visit Castillo de San Marcos. For years, this was the northernmost outpost for Spain. It remains the oldest masonry fort and best preserved example of a Spanish colonial fortification in the continental US.

They certainly don't make them like this anymore!

By 1513, the Spanish had established a wealthy overseas empire in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Venezuela and Peru. They knew the best route for travel was along the Gulf Steam, and thus claimed Florida.

Beautifully decorated canon

Sir Francis Drake attacked St. Augustine in 1586 for the English, eventually going north to Jamestown by 1607. British pirates attacked St. Augustine again in 1668 and then settled in Charleston in 1670. This led to the building of the Castillo de San Marcos in 1672; however it remained incomplete until 1695.

Interior view of Fort

Jumping to 1763, the outcome of the Seven Years’ French & Indian Way, Spain gave Florida to Great Britain in exchange for La Habana, Cuba. The Brits got Matanzas and strengthened the Castillo, holding the two forts through the American Revolution. The war ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1783, which returned Florida to Spain.

Bob walking into fort

The US got Florida in 1821 and renamed the Castillo Fort Marion and used it to house Indian prisoners during the Seminole War of 1935 – 1842. Confederate troops used it briefly during the Civil War & Indians captured in western military campaigns were held there later on. The fort was last used during the Spanish-American War as a military prison.

Another example of artwork

The following slide show contains many more pictures of both forts and of historic St. Augustine.

For further information: Fort Matanzas National Monument and Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

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