April 8, 2016

By: Festiva Getaways

The Ghosts of Castillo de San Marcos

If a building gets enough history under its belt, then it's going to collect its fair share of ghost stories. Since the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine is the oldest standing fort in all of North America, that means it's got some of the best ghost stories.

The Florida landmark was initially built in the late 15th century. In the time since, it has passed from Spanish hands to British rule and back to Spain before settling under American control. It's been used as a fort to keep people out and as a prison to keep people in, which means people have died mysteriously on both sides of the walls. And as we all know, dying mysteriously is the best recipe for ghost story soup.

One of the more interesting stories involves Dolores, the wife of the fort commander when it was under Spain's rule. She participated in an affair with one of her husband's subordinates, and upon discovery of the affair, the two were allegedly chained up in a corner and entombed.

Their bodies were not discovered until the fort switched to American control, and a curious fellow wondered where the cannonball that dropped through the upper deck had disappeared to. Upon inspection, he learned it had fallen into the hidden chamber, which was excavated, revealing the bones inside.

In life, Dolores's most memorable trait was the heavy amount of perfume she wore. And now? Visitors to the site often mention smelling a very strong scent in the now open chamber where she was interned alive along with her illicit lover.

Other reported incidents on the site include mysterious boot steps, marching in formation, that can be heard above on the deck after it's been closed to visitors. Others have been forcefully shoved when they are alone in rooms that were used as prison cells for Apache people captured in Arizona just after the Civil War.

One employee on the site claims to have seen a full apparition physically lie down and leave an indentation in one of the cots lined up in the soldiers' quarters.

It's impossible to step foot into the lower levels of the fort, with the sparse lighting and torturous humidity, and not imagine that some of the former occupants didn't leave vital parts of themselves behind.

When visiting the site, keep an open mind and soak in the atmosphere. Quiet your mind and your senses, and be amazed at what you just may see or hear.