Seven Castles in St. Augustine, Florida

Castle Otttis is located on A1A north of St. Augustine, Florida. Photo by Sky 360 Aerial Media, www.sky360aerial.com 

 

Castle Otttis

Castle Otttis is located at 103 3rd Street, Saint Augustine, Florida. It’s north of the City of St. Augustine along A1A North. The castle was created as an original landscape sculpture and is designed to look like an Irish castle of 1,000 years ago. The interior was created under guidance of historians from the Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine to evoke an atmosphere of an Abbey (or early Christian church) in Ireland during the same period. The project began in 1984 and the exterior was completed by 1988. Before Covid-19, the castle was used as a wedding venue and hosted a public interdenominational Christian worship service on the last Sunday of each month. More details at www.castleotttis.com   

Villa Zorayda

Built in 1883 by Franklin W. Smith, the Villa Zorayda is located at 83 King Street, in historic St. Augustine, Florida. The architecture is modeled after the 13th Century Moorish Alhambra Palace in Spain. Today, the Museum houses many amazing antiquities of the previous owners’ collections. Visit www.villazorayda.com

**We recommend viewing the Villa Zorayda during the holiday season, from mid-November through December. It’s GORGEOUS!


Castle Warden in St. Augustine, Florida is now Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Museum. Photo by Mark Krancer, kramkranphoto.com

Castle Warden (now Ripley’s Believe it or Not)

Castle Warden (now known as Ripley’s Believe it or Not) is located at 19 San Marco Avenue in St. Augustine, Florida. The Moorish Revival House was built by William Warden, a Standard Oil partner of Henry Flagler. The twenty-three room house was completed in 1887. It was owned by the Warden family until the end of the 1930s. Famed novelist, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (author of The Yearling, Cross Creek, and South Moon Under), and her husband Norton Baskin purchased it and in 1941, remodeled it into the Castle Warden Hotel. The hotel was a favorite for Robert S. Ripley, the newspaper cartoonist, writer and researcher made famous by his Believe It or Not! cartoons that ran in newspapers around the world.  Following his death in 1949, his heirs finally managed to secure the estate and in December 1950, the nation’s first Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum opened in St. Augustine. Self-guided tours are available daily. Visit www.ripleys.com/staugustine

The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument in St. Augustine, Florida. Drone photo by Mark Krancer, kramkranphoto.com

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

The Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States, built from 1671 through 1695. It’s located at 1 South Castillo Drive, St. Augustine, Florida. The fort is a national park and visitors can step inside the walls and attend live re-enactments. Visit www.nps.gov/casa

**We recommend viewing the fort up close and looking closely at the coquina (the rare limestone material used in construction).  


The former Ponce de Leon Hotel in St. Augustine, Florida, now Flagler College. Photo by Sky360 Aerial Media, www.sky360aerial.com

Alcazar Hotel (now Lightner Museum)

Founded in 1968, Flagler College campus comprises 19 acres, the centerpiece of which is the Ponce de León Hotel, built in 1888 as a luxury hotel featuring Spanish Renaissance architecture, located at 74 King Street, St. Augustine, Florida. The architects were John Carrere and Thomas Hastings, working for Henry Morrison Flagler, the industrialist, oil magnate and railroad pioneer. Tours are available  from Thursday-Sunday at 10 am, 11 am, 1 pm, 2 pm, and 3 pm, departing from the rotunda at 74 King Street in downtown St. Augustine. RSVP at shop.flagler.edu

**We recommend viewing the interior of the Rotunda with the 68-foot domed ceiling and the dining room featuring 79 Louis Comfort Tiffany Stained Glass windows.


Lightner Museum photo courtesy of lightnermuseum.org

Alcazar Hotel (now Lightner Museum)

Lightner Museum is housed in the former Alcazar Hotel built in 1888 by Henry Flagler, located at 75 King Street, St. Augustine, Florida. Today it is home to one of the best collections of fine and decorative 19th century art in the country. The Museum is open to the public seven days a week and features self-guided tours, tours by reservation for adults and children, and demonstrations of antique mechanical musical instruments. The Museum is also available for weddings and events. Visit lightnermuseum.org

**We recommend taking a self-guided tour and viewing the collections of art. We also encourage having lunch at Cafe Alcazar, located where the world’s largest indoor swimming pool once stood. 


Memorial Presbyterian Church in St. Augustine, Florida. Photo by Sky 360 Aerial Media, www.sky360aerial.com

Memorial Presbyterian Church

Built in 1889, Memorial Presbyterian Church is located at 32 Sevilla Street in St. Augustine, Florida and stands as a memorial not only to Henry Flagler’s beloved daughter, Jennie Louise, but as a monument to Flagler’s own faith and vision. The son of a Presbyterian minister, Henry Morrison Flagler remains one of the preeminent developers of Florida. The church building was listed in “8 religious wonders to see in the U.S.” by CNN.com in 2012. Church services are held weekly throughout the year with Sunday school as well. Tours are closed during Covid. Visit memorialpcusa.org

**We recommend strolling through the gardens.


Fort Matanzas is located south of St. Augustine, Florida along A1A. Photo from nps.gov

Fort Matanzas

Fort Matanzas National Monument preserves the fortified coquina watchtower, completed in 1742, which defended the southern approach to the Spanish military settlement of St. Augustine. The outdoor areas of the Fort Matanzas Visitor Center are now open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. Ferry service to the fort is available from 9:30 a.m. through 4:30 p.m., on timed tours, Wednesdays-Sundays only. Visit www.nps.gov/foma/index.htm

**We recommend taking the free ferry boat tour over to the fort. It’s a fun adventure! 

 

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