|Steve on the drawbridge.|
We had the chance to tour the old fort here today. It's called the Castillo de San Marcos, was built in 1672 and is now a National Monument. It was built by the Spanish, remodeled by the British and then re-redone by the Spanish. It's in remarkably good shape considering it's age. They have a great staff of park service rangers and volunteers. It's made of a local material called coquina (ko-key-na) that's actually compressed beach: shells and sand. It was quarried on the island across the river and let dry for a year to harden so it could be cut into bricks. It's great for withstanding cannon ball fire because it doesn't shatter, it just absorbs the cannon ball and it doesn't burn. Because it doesn't burn, it was used for most of the buildings in St Augustine.
|The cannon firing reenactment.|
The coquina doesn't fare so well with all the thousands of tourists who go through. It's fairly soft and wears down like concrete. There are signs all over asking people not to touch, sit on or stand on the walls. Of course, there were people all over the walls. Did I mention that they're 35 feet off the ground and 300 years old and just a little crumbly? They need to make us tourists sign a "I will not be stupid today" pledge before entering.
|Close-up of the coquina walls.|
|The elusive seafood market.|