Matanzas – the other fort

The Castillo de San Marcos is St. Augustine’s most identifiable national monument; however, Historic City News reminds you that we have a second fort in our area — the Fort Matanzas National Monument located on A1A at the south end of Anastasia Island.

Fort Matanzas can be rediscovered approximately 15 miles south of town (8635 A1A South) and is open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day of the year except December 25th.

Visitors get to take the National Park Service’s ferry to Rattlesnake Island and experience daily military life at the 18th century Spanish fort that guarded the southern approach to St. Augustine.  There is no charge for the ferry service and admission is free.

Even though park visitation has increased about 450% since then, Fort Matanzas is still using the same two-room visitor center which was built by the WPA in 1939.

Ferry times:
The ferry to the fort leaves the Visitor Center dock at the following times, weather permitting:

9:30 a.m. 1:30 p.m.
10:30 a.m. 2:30 p.m.
11:30 a.m. 3:30 p.m.
12:30 p.m. 4:30p.m.

The first Saturday of each month is Cannon Day at Fort Matanzas.

(When the first weekend is a holiday weekend, Cannon Day will be the second Saturday)

Re-enactors present cannon firings and other living history events for all tours except the 9:30 and 4:30 tours.

Thinking of things to do on your visit?

-Pick up a free nature trail guide in the Visitor Center and explore this short 1/2 mile long boardwalk trail through the maritime forest.  There is a ranger-led nature program on the fourth Saturday of each month from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. which includes either a short walk on one of the park’s trails or a stationary program in the picnic area or amphitheater.

-Go fishing and enjoy nature from the river shore, walk along the river beach at low tide, take the beach boardwalk and go beachcombing on the ocean beach.

-Explore the Fort by wandering around and through the fort and taking in the exhibits you’ll find there.  Brochures will help explain what you’ll be seeing.

-Your Boat Captain or an interpretive guide will give a talk during your trip to the fort.  A re-enactor is on duty at the fort most days.

-Watch the movie shown on request at the Visitor Center.  This 8-minute video outlines the history of the fort and the area and explains a little of the natural history as well.

-Relax and ponder the view from the fort; you may find yourself sitting on a bench and letting the waves of history splash at your feet.

For special accommodations or more information, contact the park office at (904) 471-0116.

Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News staff photographer

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