Castillo de San Marcos Haunts

As the Nation’s oldest city the town of St. Augustine in Florida was secured as a fort by the Spanish empire between the years of 1672 and 1695 after being destroyed by Sir Frances Drake in 1586 and English Pirate Robert Searles in 1668. Built from a type of shell stone called coquina it made the fort practically untouchable. It was around 1672 when the fort was built once again, again with the coquina and this time named Castillo.

It took 23 years to build Castillo and the coquina was brought from Cuba to construct this massive fort. During the hundred years before Castillo the town of St. Augustine was defended by nine wooden forts. While the British was in control it was known as Fort St. Mark between 1763 and 1784 and then as Fort Marion between 1821 and 1942.

One of the most famous legends of the Castillo de San Marcos is that of Colonel Garcia Martis, what happened to his wife Dolores, and his chief officer Captain Manuel Abela. It is said that Captain Abela and Dolores were involved in a torrid love affair in which the Colonel caught them by smelling his wife’s perfume on the captain. Both, the Captain and Dolores suddenly disappeared although the Colonel could give excuses as to where they went, Dolores supposedly went home to Mexico and the Captain was supposedly reassigned back in Spain.

Years later in a hidden room in the dungeon ashes and bones were discovered, they are believed to be the ashes and bones of Captain Abela and his lover Dolores. When people have toured this room, they have felt sudden cold spots and have smelt the sweet perfume that was Dolores’ own special scent, the scent that caused her to lose her life and the life of her lover.

There is also said that if you place your ear up again the wall of the fort that you can hear screams and fighting as if you are listening to the war and death that occurred at that place. The watch tower light is almost always being lit as sunset, or as it is rising, although there is no power to that particular area. Apparently the soldiers are still keeping the light burning for their comrades that are coming to the fort from Spain and are needing the light to guide their paths.

Is this the only phenomenon at the Castillo de San Marco, I am sure it is not, but who knows for sure, aside from those who experience the sightings and feelings of death, dread and wonderment that just seemed to ooze from every crevice of the fort. It is said that you can see apparitions, orbs, cold spots and the feeling of being touched by an unseen hand.

They do offer tours of the fort daily until 4:30 in the afternoon, and the grounds around the fort are open aside from the hours of midnight to 5:30 in the morning. Everyone is encouraged to add their story of their visit of the Castillo de San Marco, if you visit and feel or sense something very strange, or if you see something that shouldn’t have been there, then you can say you have had an experience at one of the most haunted places in America.


  • Tony Hawkes

    I am very familiar with the Castillo De San Marcos as St. Augustine is my second home. The coquina was not brought from Cuba, it was from Anastasia Island, across the river from where the Castillo was built. The same quarry was used to build the Fort Matanzas South of St. Augustine on the Mantanzas River. The river has gone by several names over the last 400 plus years.

    As a paranormal investigator, I would say that yes, the Castillo is very much haunted. But, I don’t believe the story being told about Capt. and Delores. It’s a great story but there is no evidence to support it other than the old tale that is told. And the room that was supposedly discovered years later containing bones.. Eh… Old records suggest the room was discovered when a cannon fell through the floor of the gun deck. When they couldn’t find the cannon downstairs, they realized there must be a room that was sealed. Only bones found in there were animal bones. It appears to be a powder storage room but most likely was sealed up because the powder was getting wet in that area.

    While there are reports of perfume in the air that I have witnessed myself, they normally happen outside near the Northeast Bastion along the water. The “Sensitives” I work with feel it is more of a distraught wife waiting for her husband to return from sea, and he never did.

    There are many spirits at the Castillo and throughout St. Augustine. Some of the stories told to the tourists are just that, stories. But you have to entertain the masses that spend the money.

    Tony Hawkes
    Outcast Paranormal Society – Florida

  • Ghost Writer

    Thanks Tony!

    The Castillo De San Marcos is on our list but will probably be next year – Maybe we can look you up and get some expert help?

  • lindsay Phillips

    My sister and I just visited the castillo de san marcos on sunday the 7th. we were at the back wall where the firing squad was held. I had been there in july and got some odd feelings. when we were there sunday night i started doing a little evp work. i told anyone who was there that we would like to know. that they could touch us or pull our hair. anyway my sister looks at me and says feel my right calf. it was ice cold, i felt her other leg and other parts of her and they were normal temp. she also got dizzy and nausea. i have always been drawn to the tower near where they do the cannon reenactments. something in or near the tower and on that wall ( toward ripley’s) did not want me to get pictures. everywhere else i could get decent pictures but of the tower and that wall it was pitch black you can faintly make out the outline of the tower and castillo wall. i have been told i am sensitive but what happened with my sister makes me even more of a believer st augustine is an awesome place for paranormal activity

  • Tony Hawkes

    Ghost Writer,

    Any excuse to go to St. Augustine is good for me and the group! I am taking my girlfriend/co-founder there for her birthday. I bit the bullet and paid for us to spend the evening at the lighthouse with Dustin from GHI. What the heck it’s a birthday present. lol!


    Sounds like you had an awesome experience there! You had some of the same experiences we have had there.
    As for the “firing squad wall” there isn’t much truth to that story. Until the United States took over the Castillo in 1821 that area was a moat. In the 1840’s the area was filled in to make the water battery, part of the Coastal Defense System. A more likely reason for all those holes in the wall in that area are vandals using pocket knives or something. At night that particular area is very dark and makes it a target for vandals. There are flood lights along the seawall but they don’t always work.

    Tony Hawkes

  • Jon

    A couple years back when I was in high school, our baseball team here in Buffalo would take our annual Spring Training trip down to St. Augustine. We stayed in the Howard Johnson a couple blocks away from the Castillo, so my teammates and I would play Capture the Flag around the fort’s walls (inside the moat) at night.

    One night, a buddy of mine and I saw this guy standing in the tower in the Northeast corner. He had a uniform on and was holding a lantern, which I thought was strange, but I thought maybe it was guard on duty.

    However, upon watching the Ghost Adventures filmed there, apparently one of the most common apparitions is of a soldier walking down the top of the fort on that side with a lantern. They even got video evidence of an apparition lighting a lantern and it fizzling out.

    It’s really cool to see video footage of a ghost I saw with my own eyes confirmed via actual footage. Now I don’t seem crazy, and it’s a good story to tell all my friends I played baseball with.

  • alexandra

    I was there on wenesday with my grandma and in all the rooms i went into there were realy cold. and thn this one room i started to feel light headed.. then when i walk out i was fine

  • Sarah LKC

    I go there a lot. My second time there we got to go to the fort. I went into the barracks area. I stuck my face in what looked to be a jail cell and got hot breath on my face, like an aggravated sigh. I immediately jumped back and didnt scream but made a sound like nnnnnnnnnnnnuhhh! It wasnt like it was trying to scare me, but more like it was just aggravated. I went back a second time and only put my camera past the bars a bit. I got an entire screen of red and a scratch on my finger.

    We went through that little tunnel thing too. I wanted to turn around as soon as i crawled through, but there were people behind me. I didnt smell perfume, but rather blood. like gallons of blood. I never heard any stories either, so I just felt like I would die if I stayed in there. Not like I was threatened, just like I would die if I stayed long enough.

  • Julie Montgomery

    Hi all,
    I am planning a trip there the week between Christmas and New Years and very much want to experience this. Is the best approach simply to go to the Castillo or to go via a tour company? Any suggestions are highly appreciated.

  • Ghost Writer

    Either works really. First time at a place I like to take a tour personally. I get good information and sometimes maybe even get into places or rooms I wouldn’t have any other way.

    After that initial tour I prefer to go by myself so maybe I can find a quite place to do a quick evp, run a recorder or get some pictures without many people around. If I have learned a name or something in the tour I can use it to try and talk directly with someone.

    The Castilla is pretty big and to be honest usually pretty busy during the times I have gone during open hours but well worth it.

  • Misty

    We went there this past weekend. When I put my face up to the prison room grate, I smelled extremely rank body odor, like 40 homeless people were in there. It was so strong, it made me gag and it “stuck” in my nose for 5 minutes after! My daughter tried it and the same thing happened to her. It also happened to my mom but not to my dad. We came back about 30 mins later, to see if anyone else had the same thing happen and watched 8 people stick their faces right where we did and they didn’t say a word about the smell! I seriously doubt the park rangers are letting homeless people hang out in there after hours when the park closes (and who would want to hang out in there anyways in the dark!?) so I can’t really think of an explanation. My husband says it must be from centuries ago and the smell permeated the walls but odor is organic, and anything organic is going to break down.

  • Taylor

    I recently went there and took pictures of everything and later after we left I was looking through the pictures and noticed a face in what looks like to he a fire place in the room were the soldiers slept. Also had a lot of blank pitch black pictures.

  • Kathy

    My husband and I went to the Castillo this morning. It was hot and muggy with intermittent showers. We walked the entire fort (upper and inside. We decided to forgo the moat and outer area for tomorrow or Monday… I decided we had time before the next rain shower to see the ravelin. Just as I got to the top, I got extremely light headed and dizzy. I stood against the wall but the feelings would not dissipate. Hubby helped me down so I could sit on the stairs but that didn’t help either. We slowly went down towards the drawbridge to get some help. All of a sudden, the feelings went away..GONE. I had had plenty of water and was not dehydrated. Once I got away from the ravelin, I felt fine. Has anyone out there had or heard of anyone else having this experience? I have photos of many orbs in some of the rooms of the fort. Hubby says I am imagining things. is my email if anyone has some info they would like to share…..

  • chelesy

    I know a lot about Castillo De San Marcos just by watching ghost adventures. it gave me a lot of detail and knowledge about the place

  • Sandra

    I have also been to the Castillo many times, and the prison room that you have to duck to get into, I have always felt really cold…. even when the tem outside was like 97 degrees plus… that room felt like it was around 40.. it always felt like death to me… its a room that is easy to get into, but hard to get out of, especially if someone in the party is taller

  • Kelicha

    Everyone who is interested in this Castillo should watch the episode of Ghost Adventures where they held a lockdown to gather evidence to prove paranormal encounters do occur there. It will also give you some more background information on this.

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