History & Culture

Fort Matanzas from the west
Fort Matanzas from the west.

The Stories of Matanzas and St. Augustine

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 New World.


Artist's conception of the massacre of the French Huguenots at Matanzas in 1565.

National Geographic Photograph

The Massacre

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".

Read more . . .

The British and Spanish flags of the 18th century.
Colonial Spanish & British Flags of the 18th Century

The British Threat & The Building of Fort Matanzas

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.

Last updated: June 3, 2020

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