Fort Matanzas National Monument was built in 1742 to defend the city of St. Augustine from British attack. Located just 15 miles south of St. Augustine, it has stood in the Matanzas Inlet for well over 250 years.
A remnant of Florida’s Spanish past, today the fort is maintained by the National Park Service. The Visitor Center and most of the park grounds are open daily to the public from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The Fort itself is accessible only via a passenger ferry which runs from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day. Both the ferry and admission to the Fort are FREE, but guests must stop at the Visitor Center to obtain a ferry pass.
Fort Matanzas has a long history, closely connected with the founding of St. Augustine by Pedro Menéndez de Aviles. In 1565, Menéndez killed over 250 French Huguenots upon the shores of this inlet, including the famed Jean Ribault. Due to the history of the site, the Spanish named both the fort and the inlet “Matanzas,” which means “slaughters” in English. That name carries on to this day.
It is believed that a small wooden watchtower was always present on the inlet to guard the watery ‘back door’ entrance to St. Augustine. The fort that visitors see today was not built until British attacks increased along the Florida coast in the 1740s. Visitors will note some similarities between the construction of St. Augustine’s fort, the Castillo de San Marcos, and Fort Matanzas because both are made of coquina. Coquina, a naturally occurring stone along Fl
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Fort Mose Historic State Park is the site of the first legally sanctioned free African settlement in what is now the United States. In 1738, the Spanish governor of Florida chartered the settlement of Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, or Fort Mose for short, as a settlement for those fleeing slavery from the English colonies in the Carolinas. Over the next 25 years, Fort Mose and Spanish Saint Augustine became a sanctuary for Africans seeking liberation from the tyranny of English slavery.
For half a century, visitors to St. Augustine have made the St. Augustine/St. Johns County Visitor Information Center their first stop upon arriving in the Nation’s Oldest City. Commonly known as the “VIC,” the center offers information on special and cultural events, brochures and guidebooks for the area's attractions, clean restrooms, a gift shop. The VIC is staffed with friendly fully licensed tour guide hosts who gladly share information on attractions, museums, tours, accommodations, restaurants and unique shopping opportunities. The VIC is where a St. Augustine vacation begins, whether you plan to stay a day, a weekend or longer.