Fort Caroline - History and Facts | History Hit

Fort Caroline

Jacksonville, Florida, United States

Fort Caroline was a short-lived sixteenth century French colony in Jacksonville, Florida.

Peta Stamper

07 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Fort Caroline

Fort Caroline was a colony established by the French in Florida, United States, during the 16th century. Eager to gain a foothold in America and obtain a share of the wealth already attained by Spain, this was France’s first attempt to create such a settlement.

Today, the remains of the short-lived fort lies within the Timucuan Ecological Preserve and is open for visitors.

Fort Caroline history

Permanent settlement in Fort Caroline began in 1546, expedited by the increasing desire by French Protestants known as the Huguenots, to avoid persecution during the religious conflict which raged at home.

Initially, the French established good relations with the Timucua people who resided there and gained the indigenous Americans’ assistance in building their settlement. However, the goodwill did not last long and within a year the French settlers had run out of supplies.

The end of the French colony of Fort Caroline occurred soon afterwards when it was attacked by the Spanish. Of those 200 who did not flee, only 60 survived. This marked the last major attempt by the French to create colonies in the country.

Fort Caroline today

Today, as a National Park Fort Caroline National Memorial pays homage to the French colony. What stands today is the rebuilt stronghold from 1964 which is the centrepiece of the memorial.

Visitors can explore the site, including the monument to the explorer, Jean Ribault, between the hours of 9am to 5pm Wednesday through Sunday. Bring comfortable footwear for walking around and bug repellent is highly recommended! There are also picnic tables at the visitor centre and Theodore Roosevelt Area, Cedar Point and Kingsley Plantation.

Getting to Fort Caroline

Located just within the city limits of Jacksonville, the Preserve can be accessed from route 295 or interstates 116, 113 or 10. The main visitor centre is found at Fort Caroline, 14 miles northeast of downtown.