Fort Matanzas National Monument
located on Anastasia Island
which is 14 miles south of St. Augustine
. The Fort was built in 1740-1742 of coquina, which is a common shell stone in the area. It was built to guard Matanzas Inlet which can be used as a back entrance to the city of St. Augustine's Castillo de San Marcos
. In 1742, just as the Fort was being completed, 12 ships attempted to sail up the inlet but were turned back by cannon fire from the Fort. This encounter was the only time Fort Matanzas ever fired on an enemy.
By 1819 the Fort had deteriorated to the point where it was unusable and became a ruin then in 1916 restoration began. In 1924 it was declared a National Monument and in August of 1933 ownership was transferred from the War Department to the National Park Service. There is also a Visitor Center and headquarters located on the premises.
Visiting Fort Matanzas
Today the Ranger staff takes visitors on a guided boat tour across the Matanzas River to historic Fort Matanzas, on Rattlesnake Island. Tours are offered daily and generally last 45-50 minutes, the Fort is open to the public every day except December 25. The park also has a 1/2 mile self-guided nature trail on a boardwalk through a coastal forest and another boardwalk through the dunes to a beach overlook. Several times a year on weekends a living history of the Fort and guided nature walks are presented.