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Fort Matanzas National Monument, Florida

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Fort Matanzas National Monument is a protected site in St. Johns County, Florida. It preserves Fort Matanzas, a 17th century Spanish fort, and its surrounding salt marsh and barrier islands. The national monument covers 227 acres (0.91 sq km).

Fort Matanzas was built to protect the Matanzas inlet, on the southern mouth of the Matanzas River, on the rear part of the city of St Augustine. While Castillo de San Marcos guarded the front portion of St Augustine, until Fort Matanzas was built, the rear was undefended. That allowed James Oglethorpe, the Governor of Georgia, to launch a blockade of St. Augustine in 1740. He held siege of the city for 39 days before withdrawing.

Fort Matanzas, FloridaFort Matanzas, Florida
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authorshipDaniel Schwen
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The incident made the Spanish realize the need to protect the Matanzas inlet. Fort Matanzas was built between 1740-42. It is sited on Rattlesnake Island to guard the inlet. In 1763, Spain lost control of Florida. Although it regained Florida in 1783, by then its power was diminishing, so it left the fort in a state of neglect. When the United States took over Florida in 1819, Fort Matanzas was in such an advanced stage of ruin that it could not be used by the military.

Restoration of Fort Matanzas was carried out in 1916, and on 15 October, 1924, it was designated a national monument. It was also listed on the National Register of Historic Places on the same day.

Fort Matanzas National MonumentFort Matanzas National Monument
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Visiting Fort Matanzas National Monument, Florida

Fort Matanzas is on Rattlesnake Island, about 15 km to the south of the historic district of St Augustine, near Pellicer Creek Aquatic Preserve. To get there, take Florida Highway 1A south from St Augustine for 15 miles, and you will arrive at the park entrance on the right side of the road.

The park visitor center is open daily except on Christmas Day. To reach the fort requires taking a ferry which leaves the park visitor center at 9:30 am, 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 12:30 pm, 1:30 pm, 2:30 pm, 3:30 pm and 4:30 pm. There are no entrance fees at Fort Matanzas National Monument, and the ferry service is also fee of charge.

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