Lets go to some Large “Stone Structures”

   As part of my Vacation with my Mother we went to a variety of historical sites.  Some were so nice, and others, were not really well preserved.   Two of the nice sites were Fort Matanzas  and Castillo de San Marcos  Both related and quite close to St Augustine.

Fort Matanzas  is named for the slaughter of the French Huguenots in the 1500's.  Matanzas is a Spanish word meaning Slaughter/s.  
Fort Matanzas was a small outpost close to St. Augustine.  In a way, it was a guard post for the "back door" of St. Augustine.  
Today, the Fort remains on an Island, with the only access via a small Ferry.
The Ferry is free and picks everyone up on the half hour.  The ride over is less than 15 minutes, so even for me who tends to get Ferry-sick, it was a very pleasant ride.
I was so so impressed by the Fort and the preservation of  the building.  I kept tell my Mom, "Imagine all the people who lived here since the 1500's!"  
Well, as if turns out the Fort has been restored.  It has been accurately restored using the same materials, but it is not the original fort, which for some reason disappointed me a little bit.
Here is a photo of the Original Fort  as seen in 1912.
And here is Fort Matanzas Now:
I have to say I feel that plain "ruins: would have been more wonderful to me, but for many people, including school children, rebuilding the Fort certainly makes education much easier.  
And of course, for very photogenic scenes.  
At Ft. Matanzas was a Costumed Interpreter.  As is the case most of the time, the interpreter seemed to want to shock and amaze.  So, a great deal was made over Young boys serving in the Military at age 12 etc.  This interpreter made a point to do some things a bit differently.  We visited on Martin Luther King Jr Day.  THe Interpreter pointed out that it was MLK day and then proceeded to tie in the fight for Civil Rights to the history of the Spanish in Florida, as well as the Native Americans and African Americans in the area.  I  really appreciated his ability to relate these topics.  He really did much more than just recite facts in a costume!

The other thing I appreciated was that the visit was time limited.  The interpreter  did his talk and then left 20 minutes for interaction and exploration.  This was a great way to see the site with my Mother, who is a classic dawdler.  
I also appreciate that this site is free.  It is maintained with monies collected from the larger Castillo De San Marcos located in St Augustine.  While  I do like to support the parks (and I did leave a donation) I know that the fees for parks make entry inaccessible for some people, so I like that this one is entirely free and is actually very nice!
The sky was just perfect for photos.  
The next day, we moved on to the very large Castillo De San Marcos.
At this park, we discovered the "Senior Pass" for all national Parks.  It is 10 USD.  The pass then allows the holder to enter any National Park for life, with three others in the same car, for FREE.  My Mom immediately bought one.  We estime that on this one vacation we saved about 15 dollars when subtracting the original ten.  
Castillo De San Marcos  is Enormous.  Here is a shot taken from above:
This structure was started in 1672.  I won't write out the long history of this fort as it changed hands many times, and if you have the interest you can check it out easily through the net.  Instead I think I'll just show some photos and also discuss certain things that I found interesting.
Both  Forts are constructed out of Coquina.   Coquina is essentially a limestone rock composed mostly of small shells and fragments.  What is interesting about Coqunia is that while it wears well, it is sort of soft.  Apparently when the British attacked the Castillo, the cannon balls simply bounced off or lodged themselves into the walls, causing very little damage.  The Spaniards apparently then removed the ammunition by night and painted over the indentations, causing the British much consternation.  
View from the inner courtyard.  To the left.  
This is of Course, the seal of Spain.  You can see it on tablets such as the one above throughout the Fort.  This was the best conditioned tile.
As it was a Fort,  there were many many cannons.  Each one seems to be slightly different.
I am not a big fan of Cannons, or things that go boom, in general, but the designs on the Cannons are very interesting to examine!
Believe it or not, I didn't take all of them!  I think my Mother did!!!!
There was a non costumed interpreter here, and while he was again in the mode of officiousness, I definitely learned some things I had no idea about.
This fort barely saw any battle, but it did served multiple times throughout our Nation's history as a Prison during and not during war.  
Initially the fort only has a small Carcel, or prison…
But the rooms easily converted to prison cells during the Civil War.  
This Fort was also used to house Prisoners of the Seminole Wars and also, oddly, Native Americans of the Plains. 
I can not imagine how depressing the cold interior was to the Plains Indians.
This photo shows the "spanish Graffitti"  It is reproduced on a wooden sign down below, and is in traditional Spanish lettering of the time, but remains impossible to decipher.  This rom really captured my imagination.  Beyond the "graffitti" are drawings of ships of various sizes and shapes, all from the 1700's.  I imagine the soldiers who were living in the fort did sometimes get bored!
As Spain was strictly Catholic at the time, a chapel was included in the original construction.  It is amazing to see in the chapel the original Holy Water containers on the sides of the walls.  I am always amazed that I can look at 
something that was surely used by multitudes of persons so many years ago!
Other than that the turrets of the fort caught my Eye as well as this funny little circle!
So, there is my Visit to some Large stone structures.  Not my Favorite type of way to spend a day off, but I think my mother enjoyed it and I actually did enjoy it, I think I would have preferred one hour less long!!!!
Hope these photos come out well here on Vox.

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8 thoughts on “Lets go to some Large “Stone Structures”

  1. What an interesting two days. I think they've done a great job restoring the Fort though I can see the attraction to just having ruins there. It's amazing that the Holy Water containers are still intact. Great photos.

  2. I completely relate to your feelings about wanting to see the original structure, even if it is in ruins. These are great photos! I can't get over how big the Castillo is…imagine building something like that back then. Truly remarkable.

  3. It was actually pretty fun. Apparently these forts play a big part in 4th grade education in Florida, but since I didn't grow up here….I had no idea about the Spanish periods. I'm glad I learned about it. I liked that the forts had some big empty rooms where I could just look and imagine. Too much staging ruins things for me!

  4. Looks like you and your mom are seeing some fascinating stuff! But what I can't get over is how nice and warm it looks there! Oh, I can't wait for spring. And summer.

  5. oh yes, the weather finally got back to normal 72 right now. But in exchange we seem to be being battered with odd lightening storms and a tornado last week…still lovely weather, and I hope you warm up soon!

  6. Nice write up. When restoring stone structures the mortar will be a different color and/or they will put small stones in the mortar lines to show what was restored and what wasn't. Cheers!

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