Castillo de San Marcos

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Paranormal activity here is caused by deadly adultery and cruel calculated rage.

Soldiers long dead are still on duty.

Spirits of Former prisoners and POWs are still incarcerated.


The Spaniards didn’t fool around. This fortress was built to last and survive the sieges and battles that were to come. Tom and I really enjoyed our visit here.


“The fortification is a regular polygon of four equal sides and four bastions, resembling a star.” This design, chosen by Spanish engineer Ignacio Daza, eliminated blind spots, and allowed multiple cannons to fire at the same target. Made with more than 400,000 coquina shell bricks, the walls are 11-19 feet thick at the base, and taper to 9 feet wide at the top. It has the distinction of being the oldest masonry fort in the country.

A moat surrounds the structure, but it has been dry for many years. The entrance is to the south and is protected by a barbican, or, less technically, an arrow shaped outwork. A stationary bridge leads part way across the moat and the path is then continued on into the fort by a drawbridge.

All areas and rooms are off the main square in the center of the fortress. Cannons are mounted on the upper gun deck walls of this immense structure.

The National Park Service has done its due diligence in keeping this old gal tourist-ready. Recently, a $3 million construction project was completed on Castillo de San Marcos, to renovate and stabilize it. The cracks in the fort’s coquina walls were repaired, and the concrete gun deck was replaced to prevent further deterioration.

When Tom and I visited this impressive fort, we truly enjoyed walking around to every part of it. As it is with other National Park historic forts, the visitor sees reenactors dressed in period uniforms going about their business. They perform for the tourists, conduct cannon demonstrations, and march around the main square in squads.



The need for a strong fortress was made plain to the Spaniards, after English pirates sacked and burned Saint Augustine in 1668, and when English settlers began building the town of Charleston in 1672. Work was finished in 1695. It was built to protect the entire town’s population. Its first big test came in 1702, when Spain was at war with Great Britain – The War of the Spanish Succession. While the British occupied Saint Augustine, they attacked Castillo de San Marcos for 50 days. This fortress was never taken, though the town was burned.

Through the years as a military fortress, it saw a lot of action. It held through 14 other sieges, remaining uncaptured, never falling into enemy hands. In 1763, in the Peace of Paris Treaty, Florida was given to England, in exchange for La Habana. Castillo de San Marcos was renamed Fort Saint Mark. After only 20 years, it was given back to Spain because the Peace of Paris recognized the independence of the United States. The fortress was once again in Spanish hands, until 1821, when Spain ceded Florida to the United States, for a dollar. They liked President Jackson, who loved the Spanish as well, because of his personal history. The fortress was renamed again by the Americans, Fort Marion, in honor of Revolutionary War hero General Marion.

When the Seminole Indian War began in 1834, it was in the center of the war effort. The Seminole War ended when both of the major Seminole chiefs, Osceola and Coacoochee, were lied to and tricked into coming to Fort Marion, for supposed peace talks. Instead they were put in irons. The war ended in 1842. The only excitement the fort saw during the Civil War was a temporary take-over by southern sympathizers, which didn’t last long!

During the Indian wars of the later 19th century, Fort Marion was the destination of captured Indians. As whole families would be sent to this fort, the Colonel in charge set up schools for the children, and programs to teach Indians how to fit into society.

It’s last years of service occurred during the Spanish/American War. It was used as a prison.

In 1924, both Fort Marion, and its sister fort outpost, Matanzas, were declared national monuments, and given to the National Park Service to maintain. In 1942, the fortress was renamed with its original name, Castillo de San Marcos.



People who lose their heads at death are often restless and foul-tempered.

Old Faithful Inn, WY (A bride was beheaded by her no-good husband. Her body was buried without her head. Her spirit walks around the inn carrying her head, still mourning her death at the hands of someone she loved).

Walker House Inn and Restaurant, WI (Just outside this structure, cantankerous William Cafe suffered a bad hanging, which resulted in his head popping off. His spirit has proven to be a mischievous handful who has appeared either without his head, or holding it in his lap).

Castleton University: Old Chapel, VT (Apparently, the spirit of the wife of the school’s trustee didn’t like having her head cut off by medical students for a class.)

Castillo de San Marcos, FL ( One of the Seminole Chiefs died of a disease while incarcerated. His doctor cut off his head afterward, and took it home as a memento. This has made him very displeased ever since then).


People with connections to military forts can reside where they served in the afterlife for various reasons. A sense of duty can make a spirit soldier continue to report for assignments, or even invent new ones for themselves.

Fort Ticonderoga, NY (The spirits of soldiers long dead still go about their duties day and night).

Fort Ontario, NY (The spirits of both officers and enlisted men are busy indeed following their old schedule of events).

Fort Pulaski, GA (Both Union and Confederate soldiers in spirit form are still on duty here).

Castillo de San Marcos, FL (The full paranormal sports package of activity caused by spirits of soldiers has been witnessed).


The spirits of inmates held at forts and prisons often hang around where they died, not able to let go of this world due to unsolved issues, or emotional upset.

Fort Pulaski, GA (Union POWs who were badly treated and died in the dungeon, cannot let go of their horrible experiences).

Fort Delaware, DE (Spirits of prisoners still try to get the attention of the living to set them free).

Castillo de San Marcos, FL (Spirits who died by execution or while being held in the dungeon still make themselves known).


Remains from murders that have been hidden but found years later can cause strong paranormal activity.

King’s Tavern, MS (Paranormal activity is connected to murders caused by adultery, cruelty, and probably greed. Most of the remains were hidden in the chimney until the 1930s).

Shaker’s Cigar Bar, WI (A young prostitute was murdered by a client in a mob-run speakeasy, and was buried in the wall to hide the crime. Her bones were discovered when a 20th Century owner was remodeling).

O’Henry’s Roadhouse Building, IL (A young prostitute was beaten to death and buried in an unmarked grave in the dirt floor basement, along with other mob victims).

Castillo de San Marcos, FL (Two offenders were alive when sealed off and left to die in a place not found until Americans occupied the fort. Another room of the dungeon was recently uncovered and bones of people left to die were everywhere).


As has proven to be the case in other stories on, participating in adultery often ends badly. Adultery has played a role in unleashing explosive emotions, causing death and suffering for the offending parties.

Plains Hotel, WY (When a new bride on her honeymoon night caught her beloved in bed with a prostitute, she snapped and shot them both).

Hotel Hilton, FL (An adulterous couple were caught in a hotel room and shot by the husband).

East Wind Inn, ME (A wife was brutally killed by her husband because he wanted to be with his chick-on-the-side. She is an angry, grieving spirit who haunts the upper floors).

Castillo de San Marcos, FL (Adultery turned deadly when it triggered calculated rage).


A CASE OF DEADLY ADULTERY AND CALCULATED RAGE that occurred at Castillo de San Marcos

In the month of July, 1784, when the fortress was given back to the Spanish from the English, a new commander, Colonel Garcia Marti, and his pretty young wife, Dolores arrived to start their new life here. It wasn’t long until Colonel Marti’s young, handsome, charming assistant, Captain Abela, was introduced to the outgoing, friendly Dolores.

Colonel Garcia Marti was a very busy commander, with a dour, humorless personality, somewhat older than Dolores, and perhaps neglected Dolores a bit. It was probably an arranged marriage. While Dolores made lots of friends with people in the town of Saint Augustine, she also wanted a closer relationship with a man; unfortunately it wasn’t her husband. She and Captain Abela fell in love and began an affair that would cost them dearly.

Dolores wore a strong perfume, that she put on liberally. One day, when Captain Abela was giving his report to Colonel Marti, the good colonel couldn’t help but notice the strong aroma of Dolores’ perfume, all over the front of Captain Abela’s uniform. Uh Oh! In the darkness of night, when most of the soldiers had gone back to town, both Dolores and Captain Abela disappeared. Only about 30 soldiers remained on duty at the fort.

After several days, the soldiers were wondering where their beloved Captain Abela was, as he didn’t show up for the daily call. Colonel Marti told the soldiers that Captain Abela was sent on a special mission to Cuba.

Friends of Dolores began to wonder what happened to her. So, Colonel Marti held a large dinner party, inviting all their friends from town. He told them, with great concern, that Dolores had become ill from the weather in St. Augustine, and was sent to live with her Aunt in Mexico, who would nurse her back to health. Dolores would then return to Spain to live, where it was more agreeable with her constitution. Funny, but she didn’t look sick to those around her, the last time they had seen her. Questions and theories circulated about what really happened, but Colonel Marti’s story wasn’t directly challenged.

It wasn’t until 1833, fifty years later, when Castillo de San Marcos was under American control, that the truth was inadvertently uncovered by a curious American officer, Lieutenant Tuttle. He was studying the architecture of the fort, and was puzzled when he detected a hollow sound in one of the walls of the dungeon area. When he removed the first brick, a rush of air, smelling like a strong perfume, flowed swiftly into the room. After taking down the wall, he found the hidden room, and two skeletal remains chained to the wall.

It is thought that Captain Marti had Dolores and Captain Abela chained and entombed to end their lives. At least some of the guards on duty were probably in cahoots with the Colonel, and this dastardly deed of revenge went undiscovered for years. Leave it to an American soldier to find out the truth!




Sealed Room and Its Hallway

Many people notice the strong smell of Dolores’ perfume wafting through this area.

Being a people person, she must enjoy seeing all the people who visit.

Aura orbs and bright lights are seen near the wall of the room where the errant lovers were entombed.

People feel spectral cold air go right through them in this area.

EVPs were also recorded here by the Ghost Adventures crew.

Soldier’s Quarters

The spirits of soldiers are still on duty and stay here in their off-time.

The sounds of soldiers’ boots have been heard in this room by staff.

A staff member saw the indentation made by an unseen, full form apparition lying in one of the beds.

What Are You Doing Here?

The spirits of soldiers are still very protective of their fort.

The living are sometimes shoved by an unseen presence just outside the cannon powder room, which was another place where prisoners were sealed up and left to die.

The apparition of a soldier on night duty has been seen walking along a wall of the Castillo de San Marcos with a lantern.

Footsteps have been heard of soldiers running around the courtyard, sometimes aggressively close to people.

Still Incarcerated

The apparition of an executed English pirate, Andrew Ransen, has been seen at the wall where he was garrotted (slowly strangled to death with a rope; not a pleasant way to die).

The head of an Indian has been seen floating around the walls of the courtyard, looking displeased.

An angry spectral prisoner who was locked up in a dark cell is stuck in this world. He attacked a psychic who walked into his cell.

People feel cold unseen presences in the cannon powder room cell, where these spirits were sealed up and forgotten.

In other places of incarceration, people feel spectral cold air go right through them.

Residual Energy

Sounds of cannons and flashes of light suggest that energy from a battle is still going on.

Moans and screams uttered a long time ago still occur.



People for years have had the full sports package of paranormal experiences. Paranormal investigation groups have come and are never disappointed. They encounter annoyed soldiers, unhappy prisoners, and spirits who were executed in cruel ways.

In Season 2, Episode 2, the brave lads of Ghost Adventures tackled a lock-down in this very active place in a 2009 investigation. As usual, they stimulated activity through their methods of communication and provocative tactics. They experienced most of the manifestations mentioned above.



Yes indeed! Spirits of soldiers are still guarding the fort, and are annoyed when the living visit their military establishment. It sure is hard to do their jobs not having a body. Executed prisoners are stuck in their pain and the injustice done to them. Both groups had to be inventive in dealing with the living. The spirit of Dolores tries to make the best of it by letting all know that she is here in her friendly, sociable ways.



1 Castillo Drive
Saint Augustine, Florida 32084
(904) 829-6506

This 50,000 square foot fortress, Castillo de San Marcos, can be found on the Saint Augustine waterfront, just east of the old city gates.




  • Haunt Hunter’s Guide to Florida
    by Joyce Elson Moore
    Pineapple press
  • Ghost Stories of Florida
    by Dan Asfar
    Lone Pine Publishing, International

Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

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