8635 A1A South
St. Augustine, Florida 32080
Visit Fort Matanzas on our Interactive Map.
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 and is open to the public from 9 AM to 5:30 PM everyday. Visitors to Fort Matanzas have to take a short ride on a passenger ferry that runs every hour, beginning at 9:30 every morning. It is FREE to go to Fort Matanzas, both the ferry and admission are offered to the public at no cost.
Fort Matanzas has a long past, in-arguably connected with the founding of St. Augustine by Pedro Menendez de Aviles. In 1565, Menendez killed over 250 French Huguenots upon the shores of this inlet; the famed Jean Ribault was one of these Frenchmen. Due to the history of the site the Spanish named both fort and the inlet “Matanzas,” meaning “slaughters” in English, a name carried 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 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 is a naturally occurring stone made along Florida East coast, composed of shell fragments that are cemented together by the pounding surf upon the beach. This stone is easy to quarry and provided the Spanish with ample building material that was impenetrable to fire.
At Fort Matanzas you will find reenactments and demonstrations of a time long ago. A re-enactor is onsite almost everyday during the summer, relaying the history of the fort to visitors. On Wednesdays and Saturdays (weather permitting) Musket Demonstrations are given on the hour from 12:30 to 3:30. This monument is a standing reminder of Florida’s past. The inlets rich history and old walls of the Fort tell a story that is hard to accurately relay in words. Visit this monument, and its counterpart, the Castillo de San Marcos, to learn more about Spanish fortification during your stay on Florida’s historic coast.
Hours of Operation
Daily 9:00am - 5:30pm