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Fort Matanzas National Monument

Fort Matanzas National Monument

8635 A1A South
St. Augustine, Florida 32080

Phone
Fort Matanzas Visitor Center
(904) 471-0116

Explore the Timeless Vigil

Coastal Florida was a major field of conflict as European nations fought for control in the New World. As part of this struggle, Fort Matanzas guarded St. Augustine�s southern river approach. The colonial wars are over, but the monument is still protecting�not just the historic fort, but also the wild barrier island and the plants and animals who survive there amidst a sea of modern development.

History

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.

The Massacre

The first conflict goes back to 1565, the year of the founding of St. Augustine and almost 175 years before the construction of Fort Matanzas. This is when another story was played out at the Matanzas Inlet--the massacre of the French Huguenots, the incident that led to the naming of the river, Matanzas, the Spanish word for "slaughters".

The British Threat

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.

Nature at Fort Matanzas National Monument

The original national monument site consisted of only the fort on Rattlesnake Island. Through the years, however, the National Park Service has been able to acquire additional land both on Rattlesnake and on Anastasia Island and begin to set aside a slice of an intact barrier island ecosystem. The river and ocean beaches as well as the .6 mile nature trail offer visitors the opportunity to view a variety of plants and wildlife native to this ecosystem.

Directions

Fort Matanzas National Monument is located about 15 miles south of the historic district of St. Augustine, Florida on Highway A1A South. St. Augustine is located on Florida's Northeastern Atlantic coast midway between Jacksonville and Daytona Beach.

From I-95: Take exit 305 (Route 206). Follow Route 206 east about 6 miles to Highway A1A. Turn right (south) and follow A1A for 4 miles to the park entrance on the right side of the road.

From St. Augustine (Historical District): Follow Highway A1A south for approximately 15 miles to the park entrance on the right side of the road.

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