architecture, bastion system, cannons, castillo de san marcos, coquina, Florida, fort, fort matanzas, fortification, fortress, history, june 9, limestone, masonry fortification, national, national monument, national park day, north america, park, rain, reconstructed section, settlement, st augustine florida, St. Augustine, sunshine, travel, wooden forts
June 9th was National Parks Day and we decided that after 5 days of being cooped up in a boat we made a run for some sunshine and take full advantage of the free admission to the Castillo de San Marcos Fort here in amazing St. Augustine, Florida.
We really enjoyed our trip, thoroughly enjoying the cannons being shot off as well as the cannons themselves. I think that had to have been our favorite part. The details and embellishments in the cannons as well as the natural aging gave them this beautiful patina. They were quote exquisite. Hard to believe that these could or still can fire 3.5 miles!
We only had one wish that we could have seen what it was really like back then. To be a fly on the wall to see how every day life was back then. Sure would be so different and such a different way of life. It’s cool to be able to see it now and appreciate being able to see a glimpse into the past and appreciate what we have now. As I sit on my boat now and write this, it just makes me feel a bit more pirate. I love it!
This was our first time to the fort and was very cool. Here is a bit of history on it.
• The Monument site consists of 20.5 acres and includes a reconstructed section of the walled defense line surrounding the city of St. Augustine incorporating the original city gate. The Castillo de San Marcos’ architecture and detail are distinctive and unique. It is the oldest masonry and only extant 17th century fort in North America. As such it is an excellent example of the “bastion system” of fortification.
• Saint Augustine is the oldest permanent European settlement in North America. The city was established in 1565 to protect the sea routes and prevent French and English expansion. The Castillo de San Marcos is, in turn, the oldest masonry fortification in North America. After nine wooden forts failed to adequately protect Saint Augustine, the Spanish Crown authorized the construction of a stone fortification in 1672. Since that time, the Castillo has withstood bombardments and hurricanes, only changing hands through treaty. Today, it is a guardian of our rich, shared history.
• It is also unique for the material used in its construction. The Castillo is one of only two fortifications in the world built out of a semi-rare form of limestone called coquina. The other one is Fort Matanzas National Monument 14 miles south.
Given its light and porous nature, coquina would seem to be a poor choice of building material for a fort. However the Spanish had few other options; it was the only stone available on the northeast coast of La Florida. However, coquina‘s porosity turned out to have an unexpected benefit. Because of its conglomerate mixture coquina contains millions of microscopic air pockets making it compressible.
A cannon ball fired at more solid material, such as granite or brick would shatter the wall into flying shards, but cannon balls fired at the walls of the Castillo burrowed their way into the rock and stuck there, much like a bb would if fired into Styrofoam. So the thick coquina walls absorbed or deflected projectiles rather than yielding to them, providing a surprisingly long-lived fortress.
Most information provided off: http://www.nps.gov/casa/index.htm