Fort Matanzas National Monument
8635 A1A South
St. Augustine, Florida 32080
Fort Matanzas Visitor Center
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
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
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.
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
From St. Augustine (Historical District): Follow
Highway A1A south for approximately 15 miles to the park entrance on
the right side of the road.