The Hispanic-American History Timeline
1695 Castillo de San Marcos
Completed in St. Augustine
Workers brought from Havana, Cuba, complete the construction of Castillo de San Marcos, the stone colonial fort built to replace nine wooded fortifications that guarded St. Augustine, the Spanish capital of Florida, from British or pirate attacks.
Guarding downtown St. Augustine, on the shoreline of Matanzas Bay, the impressive star-shaped fort, which took 23 years to build, is surrounded by a moat, fortified by powerful cannons, and divided into four bastions, named San Pedro, San Agustin, San Carlos and San Pablo.
Made of "Coquina" (small seashells bonded together), which is similar to limestone, the powerful fort becomes an important New World military outpost for many years. When the British Navy laid siege on St. Augustine in 1702, the Castillo sheltered the town's 1,500 residents and soldiers. In spite of a two-month battle, British cannons had little effect on the coquina walls.
Today, Castillo de San Marcos stands as the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. A National Monument managed by the United States National Parks Service, the Castillo is the biggest tourist attraction in St. Augustine and a popular icon representing centuries of Hispanic presence in North America.
By Lurie Gonzalez, Lehman College