Fort Caroline National Memorial was created to memorialize the Sixteenth Century French effort to establish a permanent colony in Florida. After initial exploration in 1562, the French established "la Caroline" in June 1564. Spanish forces arrived 15 months later. Marching north from their newly established beachhead (San Agustin) the Spanish captured la Caroline in September, 1565. Nothing remains of the original Fort de la Caroline; a near full-scale rendering of the fort, together with exhibits in the visitor center, provide information on the history of the French colony, their interaction with the native Timucua, and the colonists' brief struggle for survival.
Learning about the history of the St. Johns River estuary, from the time of the native Timucuans through four centuries of exploration, colonization, agriculture, and commercial exploitation is a primary activity. The enjoyment of nature via a network of hiking trails and scenic overlooks is also popular.
Timucuan Preserve Visitor Center:
Located at Fort Caroline National Memorial, the Timucuan Preserve visitor center hosts the exhibit "Where the Waters Meet." This exhibit showcases the richness of the environment in northeast Florida and how humans have interacted with this environement for thousands of years. Before you explore the fort model, take a few moments to learn a little about Fort Caroline through the exhibits located in the Visitor Center and along the trail to the fort.
One part of Fort Caroline National Memorial is the Ribault Monument. Situated atop St. Johns Bluff, the monument provides a commanding view of the St. Johns River. On a clear day, you can see the Atlantic Ocean and Mayport Naval Station five miles to the east, and river activity, wildlife, and marshes below. The Ribault Monument commemorates the 1562 landing of
Jean Ribault near the mouth of the St. Johns River. He erected a stone column bearing the coats of arms of his French King Charles IX.
Across from the entrance to Fort Caroline National Memorial is Spanish Pond. Five hundred Spanish soldiers marched four days through marsh, forest tangle, fierce winds, and heavy rainfall to an encampment near here. This is where Menendez and his men camped, exhausted and weary, the night before the attack and capture of Fort Caroline. Today, Spanish Pond's boardwalk and trail provide an opportunity for a quiet walk and connects you to more trails through pine flatwoods, oak hammock, tidal marsh in the neighboring Theodore Roosevelt Area.
Fort Caroline National Memorial is located near the intersection of Monument Road and Fort Caroline Road, approximately 14 miles east of downtown Jacksonville.