Monday, January 2, 2017

Castillo de San Marcos

 Tom hosts Tuesday's Treasures.

December 2016 - St. Augustine FL

The Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States (Castillo San Felipe del Morro in San Juan, Puerto Rico is older). Located on the western shore of Matanzas Bay the fort was designed by the Spanish engineer Ignacio Daza. Construction began in 1672, 107 years after the city's founding by Spanish Admiral and conquistador Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, when Florida was part of the Spanish Empire. The fort's construction was ordered by Governor Francisco de la Guerra y de la Vega after the destructive raid of the English privateer Robert Searles in 1668.

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 is Fort Matanzas National Monument 14 miles south)

The Castillo has never been conquered despite attacks by English General James Oglethorpe who attempted to subdue the town in 1740. Firing from the tip of Anastasia Island, he found his cannonballs were no match for the unusual consistency of coquina which absorbed the blast rather than crumbling.

Click on the panoramic to enlarge it.

Originating in Italy in the 15th century the particular star shaped design of the Castillo is a result of architecture adapting to technology. The change in warfare brought about by black powder weapons created new types of defensive structures adapted both to withstand or avoid the impact of cannon projectiles and to effectively mount cannons to repel any attackers. Of the major architectural variations the "bastion system," named for the projecting diamond or angle shaped formations added onto the fort walls, was the most commonly and effectively used.

The need to fortify the tiny garrison town was understood as early as 1586, when it was attacked by Sir Francis Drake, an English corsair whose fleet of twenty ships and two thousand men sacked and burned the town.

Later, in 1668, the English pirate Robert Searles assaulted and plundered the settlement. At the same time the threat of English colonization in the north had significantly increased, and Queen Mariana of Spain authorized the construction of a stone fortification.

BTW John said the washrooms were amazing considering how old the fort is!

1 comment:

  1. I still remember this place from childhood. I'd love to visit again as an adult and can understand much more about it.


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