The many different flags welcoming visitors to San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park demonstrate the colorful history of this site, from the first Spanish explorers to the present day. The history of this National Landmark began in 1528 when Panfilo de Narvaez arrived in the area with 300 men; however, the first fort was not built until 1679. Andrew Jackson occupied the fort for a brief time in the early 1800s.
Archaeology provides new insight in the history at San Marcos. Although methods and techniques have changed over the years, archaeologists still strive to find clues to the past from evidence buried in the soil.
Archaeologists take extra care seeking clues to the history of San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park. Archaeologists have learned that the modern history of this site dates back to 1528 and the explorations of Panfilo de Navarez. Hernando de Soto's path of exploration also brought him to this location in 1539. The site later played an historic role during the Spanish occupation period of Florida and the First Seminole War, when General Andrew Jackson briefly took control of the fort in 1818 before leaving it under Spanish control. In 1821, the fort came under U.S. Government control and was later occupied by Confederate forces in 1861.
Archaeologists carefully study the foundation of the fort for clues to the history of this site. San Marcos de Apalache is the second oldest surviving Spanish fortification in Florida. The first fort built on this site in 1679 was commissioned by the Spanish Governor of Florida. A second fort was constructed in 1718, only to be replaced by a sturdier stone fort in 1739.
The museum at San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park houses displays, programs and artifacts to allow visitors to experience the past. Established as a state park in 1964, this site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966 and is also a National Engineering Landmark and National Historic Landmark. The museum was built in the 1960s atop the foundation of the Civil War-era Marine Hospital, which was constructed from materials from the original Spanish fort.