Photo courtesy of California History Room and Archives , Monterey Public Library
Old Monterey Foundation continues to team up with noted Monterey Bay historian and author, Tim Thomas, who offers outstanding “Lower Presidio Historic Park Walking Tours” on the third Saturday of every month from 10:00 AM – Noon.
The next walking tour will be held on Saturday, September 15, 2018: “Lower Presidio Historic Park Walking Tour: Focus on El Castillo de Monterey.
El Castillo de Monterey was a Spanish fort constructed in 1792 to protect the port and presidio from invaders. It is one of only three such forts constructed by the Spanish in California.
About The Spanish Period (1770-1821)
The fort began in 1792 as a crude log parapet with eleven cannons behind it. The cannons were probably brought from the nearby Spanish Presidio of Monterey. The site was on present day Presidio Hill on a flat plain at the 60′ level overlooking the Monterey Harbor.
In 1796, the Castillo was strengthened by adding a new earthen revetment on the seaward side.
The improvements included an adobe supported wooden gun platform, casemates and a wooden barracks for the artillery troops. These improvements still did not make the Castillo a sufficient fortification and visitors to the area generally derided its capabilities.
The first test of the Castillo came on November 20, 1818 when Argentine pirate Hippolyte Bouchard attacked Monterey. He failed in a direct attack on the town and decided to land a force on Point Pinos from which they first attacked the Castillo and routed the defenders. They turned the guns on the town and then attacked it, overwhelming the defenders who fled. The pirates end up sacking the town, destroying the Castillo’s cannons and structures. They set fire to the town before they left.
Tours meet in front of the City of Monterey’s Presidio of Monterey Museum, 113 Corporal Ewing, Building #113. From Monterey, take Pacific Street past the Monterey Conference Center and the First Theater to the end of Pacific where it forks, take the left fork;, turn left onto Artillery Road, turn right on Corporal Ewing Road and follow it a short way to the Presidio of Monterey Museum in the center of the Park against the hill; from Pacific Grove, take Lighthouse Avenue in New Monterey, bear right to go onto Pacific Street and then go to Artillery Road, turn right, and then turn right on Corporal Ewing Road and follow it to the Presidio of Monterey Museum.
Advance reservations are required by contacting Tim Thomas at (831) 521-3304 or via email. The tour is for ages 10-adult only and the cost is $20 for adults and kids are $15 (10-15 years). Group rates are also available.