The Lovers of Castillo De San Marcos

The Lovers of Castillo De San Marcos - Photo

In the oldest city in America, deep within one the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States, the spirits of two forbidden lovers are forever entangled in the web they once wove. The Castillo De San Marcos, a Spanish military fort built in 1672, hosts the tale of two lovers. Both whom betrayed the trust of one man, Colonel Garcia Marti, and paid for it eternally. The sights, sounds, and smells of these two are still experienced by visitors to the historic fort. The most telling sign is the wafting smell of a particularly strong perfume, engorging the nostrils of passersby with no distinguishable source. A secret room was discovered in the dungeon housing two skeletons and from there the tales grew. The two forsaken lovers of Castillo De San Marcos have fascinated visitors to St. Augustine for generations and this week we attempt to uncover their story. Not all love is meant to be, but that does not mean it cannot be eternal. Their souls walk the dungeon of Castillo De San Marcos, whilst their murderer’s spirit walks free. Dive into this amorous tale with US Ghost Adventures and check that you truly trust your special Valentine.

Castillo De San Marcos

A large cannon faces out between a brick wall. The ocean is in the distance

Source: Picryl

Built-in 1672, the old Spanish fort is only one of two in the world built of Coquina, a rare type of limestone. It was built out of necessity to protect the Spanish jewel of St. Augustine, a vital lifeline to the Atlantic trade route, from outside invaders. Those invaders were just around the corner. St. Augustine had been established in 1565, today the oldest European settlement in the United States, and has seen its fair share of hardships. Pirate invasions were becoming more and more common places and as such a small wooden fort was erected in 1668. The town was close to starvation. Stipends called situados were promised by the Spanish crown to the small settlement but had not arrived for eight years. Over 400,000 pesos were owed, infrastructure was crumbling and the people were struggling. It was under these conditions that a pirate ship snuck its way into the city, under the guise of a situados. 60 people died during the raid and the need for a new fort was imminent. 

Coquina is a special variant of limestone that only develops in certain. Formed by shells of coquina clam donax over the course of thousands of years. This rock was readily available to the Spanish but mostly unused. The residents of St. Augustine were primarily soldiers, not stonemasons. But after the Siege of St. Augustine in 1688 and various governmental pleading, the proper tradesmen were sent to the new world. Construction began in 1672 and finished in 1695. Walls ranged from 12 to 19 feet thick and a large courtyard was provided for the people of St. Augustine to take refuge in. The construction proved to be useful and viable as the years went on. In 1702, a short seven years after construction had finished, Governor James Moore of Charleston led an invasion of St. Augustine. His cannon fire simply bounced off the Coquina walls! Further sieges took place, in 1740 the English yet again attempted to sack St. Augustine. But the fort withstood the barrage. 

A Love Triangle Gone Awry

Castillo De San Marcos. An ocean view with a brick wall in the foreground

Source: Flickr

In 1763, after the end of the Seven Years’ War, the Spanish lost control of St. Augustine. An exchange took place between the British and the Spanish. Florida was given over to the English in return for La Habana, Cuba. Roughly twenty years later, after the recognition of the United States as an independent nation, the city and fort were returned to Spanish hands. This is where our forlorn lovers come into the story. Colonel Garcia Marti and his lovely young wife Dolores arrived at Castillo De San Marcos. He was an important man and one of great stature. Very busy, and perhaps more consumed with his professional life than he was with his romantic life. A tad bit older than his beautiful young bride as well. Take head to this story for all young lovers out there, as Valentine’s Day approaches it is good to treat the one you love correctly. He had a young assistant, Captain Abela, who was more around Dolores’ age. Abela was charming and full of life and as such Dolores took an imitate liking to him and vice versa. Dolores was known to be a lover of perfumes and applied powerful scents to herself daily and with gusto. She could be smelled at all ends of the fort and everyone generally enjoyed her uplifting scents. Well, it surely drew the young Captain in. 

One evening Colonel Marti smelled the strong smell of his wife all over Abela. Marti became overwrought with jealousy, and as the night proceed and the soldiers left for their homes back in town he let it get the best of him. Both Dolores and Captain Abela were loved by the soldiers of the fort. So it was no wonder that after several days they began asking questions about their whereabouts. No one had seen them for quite some time. Marti told his soldiers that Dolores had become ill in St. Augustine and was sent to Mexico to recover, while the young captain was sent on a special mission to Cuba. 

The Secret Chamber

Ariel view of a four pointed fort

Source: Picryl

No one questioned the Colonel’s story, even though many found it to be quite perplexing. The years passed and the fort continued on with business as normal. As Florida slowly became a part of the United States and American troops took over Castillo De San Marcos a young Lieutenant discovered something unusual about the layout of the dungeon area. There was a hollow wall. Letting his curiosity get the best of him he broke the brick barrier. A whiff of sweet-smelling air rushed at him, that of a lady’s perfume, and inside he found two skeletons of former prisoners. While there has been no proof that these skeletons belong to Dolores and Abela, there is little to no doubt in the of those at the fort. Often people can smell Dolores’s perfume in the dungeon and many see bright lights, orbs, and apparitions near the wall where these skeletons were discovered. There are many morals to this story, but perhaps the most pressing is do not neglect the ones you love. They will find another, for love is eternal. Keep reading our blog for more Valentine’s Day coverage. Next time you are in St. Augustine, Florida consider taking a tour with US Ghost Adventures!



Featured Image Source: Flickr