Fort Matanzas National Monument
Student groups on Sunshine State holiday exploring historic landmarks and points of interest in and around St. Augustine won’t want to miss this well-preserved part of the Florida National Park System, a somewhat small and primitive yet crucial 1740s monument commemorating the Spanish phase of Colonial American history.
For hundreds of years, Coastal Florida was a major field of conflict as European nations struggled for control in the New World and tiny shell-stone Fort Matanzas, a stark seven-man, five-cannon fortified watchtower with a 1500 gallon freshwater cistern built into the rear of the gundeck fiercely guarded vulnerable Matanzas Inlet, the rear access to the “Oldest City” of St. Augustine. Although the Fort was originally constructed on just two acres of land, the passing of time, decisions of tides and hands of men have contributed to the island’s growth to almost 200 acres, a peaceful sanctuary known today as Rattlesnake Island.
This fascinating landmark is accessible only by boat- the Matanzas Queen ferry - and complimentary guided tours are offered on the hour, led by Park employees in character dress who expertly acquaint you with the surrounding area while bringing Fort Matanzas’ important historic role vividly to life. Imagine yourself a young Spanish soldier assigned to the watchtower; close your eyes, hear the rush of the wind and sea, and let your imagination follow the images their whispers evoke into centuries past.