National Park Week-Fort Week Day 3
Fort Matanzas is located just south of Castillo de San Marcos and was also built to protect the city of St. Augustine. The fort was constructed along the Matanzas River, which served as a back entrance to St. Augustine. After a British blockade cut off access to the Matanzas River for a period of time, the Spanish thought it prudent to build a defense along the river. Fort Matanzas is much smaller than Castillo de San Marcos, but is interesting and might be even more fun to visit.
Visitors must arrive early in order to sign up for a tour-the only way to see the fort is through a guided tour because the fort is only accessible via boat. The park service operates a ferry that takes those signed up to the fort. The ranger-led tours are informative and give visitors a sense of the history and daily operations of the fort. However, visitors are also able to have the freedom to wander around the fort and explore it on their own. The fort is small, and it’s easy to see its different facets, such as the sleeping quarters, living quarters, and storage areas. The best part of the tour is the ability to ascend the narrow ladder through the small hole in the roof, allowing visitors to see the view from the top of the fort, where the Spanish would have kept lookout for enemy vessels.
The small nature of the tours allows a more intimate look at the fort, so visitors are treated to an up-close look at the eighteenth-century structure. If you visit the area, make sure to check out Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, but also be sure to visit the lesser-known Fort Matanzas National Monument. It’s well worth the time spent there.