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Fort Matanzas


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Rich History


The European history of Fort Matanzas National Monument begins with an incident almost 200 years before the construction of the fort at Matanzas - the Spanish massacre of French forces in 1565. It took place near or possibly within the area which now makes up the monument. The incident initiated Spanish control of Florida for 235 years and led to the naming of the Matanzas River.

Throughout its history, the stories of Fort Matanzas and the Matanzas area have been closely intertwined with that of the city of St. Augustine. Located fifteen miles north of Fort Matanzas, St. Augustine and the Castillo de San Marcos serve as outstanding reminders of the might of the early Spanish empire and as reflections of European conflicts as countries battled for land and power in the New World.

By 1740, it was no longer the French, but rather the British who were a threat to the Spanish Florida colony. Whoever controlled Florida controlled the rich shipping lanes coming from the Spanish Caribbean. The British had unsuccessfully laid siege to St. Augustine twice (1702 and 1740).

Florida Governor Montiano knew the British would be back and would most likely attempt to come through the unguarded inlet at Matanzas. So, he immediately ordered a fort to be built to guard these southern approaches-- Fort Matanzas.

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What Guests Are Saying About Fort Matanzas


Well worth it!!

Such a trip back in time. This fort has been preserved so well, you can really visualize what it might have been like to be a soldier or settler. The costumes are spot on and the characters more than willing to chat or pose for a picture. It is also nice to be able to go at your own pace.
Surprise visit...

We came upon this Fort by accident and we were pleasantly surprised. There is a free ferry ride across the inlet to visit the fort. History of the fort is provided during the ride and finished on arrival. There's also a great little hiking trail. It's worth the time to check out. Make sure you look for the ferry schedule to arrive in time.

Great experience!

Went here as soon as they opened for the day. Got a ferry pass and waited a bit to board the boat for the short ride to the fort. Loved seeing the little crabs burrowing as we walked to the fort. They have a nice little display inside to show how the soldiers lived while there.
Free ferry and fort visit...

Worth a visit to this fort. Ferry leaves every half hour starting at 9:30am. You have 45 minutes at the Fort to walk around. There is a park ranger that goes with you to give history and answer questions. No water or shade at fort. Be sure to wear sunscreen and bug spray if going in the summer.
My favorite small fort in
the national park system.


I have been to 165 out of 435 National park sites and this one is my favorite small fort. There is no entrance fee. It's a 10 minute boat ride to the oldest Spanish fort in the US. The parking is free. The beach nearby is nice.
Island Fort

This gem was a great little excursion from St. Augustine. Take the free 5-minute ferry over to the old watchtower that guarded the city's southern approaches. It's in pretty good shape with good views of the inlet. Free.

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Fort Matanzas - Sty. Augustine, FL
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Fort Matanzas - Sty. Augustine, FL
Image may be subject to copyright
Fort Matanzas - Sty. Augustine, FL
Image may be subject to copyright
Fort Matanzas - Sty. Augustine, FL
Image may be subject to copyright
Fort Matanzas - Sty. Augustine, FL
Image may be subject to copyright
Fort Matanzas - Sty. Augustine, FL
Image may be subject to copyright
Fort Matanzas - Sty. Augustine, FL
Image may be subject to copyright
Fort Matanzas - Sty. Augustine, FL
Image may be subject to copyright
Fort Matanzas - Sty. Augustine, FL