National Park Week-Fort Week Day 1
During our time in Georgia, we were able to visit many places along the coast, ranging from beaches to national park sites, coastal towns to lighthouses. Forts were an important part of coastal defense systems for many years, so we also had the opportunity to visit a number of forts. As we learned from our visits, forts were built to defend valuable pieces of land, usually cities and waterways that would allow enemy ships to sail into the interior of the land. This week, we’ll look at several of the forts that we visited.
Another piece of information we learned on our travels was that, during the colonization period of United States history, the coast of Georgia and upper Florida was an area of contention among the British and the Spanish. In an effort to repel the British and protect their land, the Spanish built a number of forts along the coast, including the oldest masonry fort in the United States, Castillo de San Marcos. The fort was built to protect St. Augustine, and the fort is now open for visitors to see this historic and beautiful fortification.
The Castillo de San Marcos is a large fort, and visitors should expect to spend at least an hour exploring the area. The Castillo de San Marcos is a bastion-style fort, built specifically to withstand cannon fire. As a result, the fort has diamond-shaped structures on each corner of the square structure, with distinctive Spanish-style towers on each point of the diamond. Visitors can wander the battlements atop the fort, seeing beautiful views of the surrounding area and the cannons that used to be used for the fort’s defense. Visitors are able to see the many different parts of a working fort, such as sleeping quarters, storage facilities-important to protect the dangerous supply of gunpowder necessary for the fort-and officers’ quarters. Visitors can even peek inside the dungeons of Castillo de San Marcos. Helpful displays inform visitors the significance of the features of the fort, as well as the fort’s history both as a structure and within the greater history of the area and the United States.
The construction of Castillo de San Marcos began in the sixteenth century, and as such, it is one of the oldest structures, and the oldest fort, in the United States. It is an important part of United States history and offers a fascinating glimpse into life in a sixteenth-eighteenth century fort.