Fort Point National Historic Site : Michelin's recommendations
Tucked beneath a steel arch at the southern anchorage of the Golden Gate Bridge, this impressive, multistoried brick-and-granite fort (1861) stands as a fine example of Civil War-era masonry and military architecture. Designed to guard the entrance to San Francisco Bay, it sits atop the site of Castillo de San Joaquín (1794), an abandoned Spanish gun battery.Like other military installations around the bay, Fort Point's ord-nance was never fired in defense. By 1885 its guns were consid-ered obsolete and were removed for scrap. Long periods of minimal occupation or complete abandonment followed.Initial plans for the Golden Gate Bridge placed Fort Point on the exact spot where Joseph Strauss, the bridge's designer, intended to sink the southern anchorage. After visiting the fort, Strauss was so impressed by the quality of its masonry that he designed a massive steel arch over the fort to preserve it.Restored and rebuilt by the National Park Service in the 1970s, Fort Point today provides visitors with an excellent glimpse into military life on the California coast in the late 19C. Two huge cannons, from 1684 and 1844, are stationed here and fired regularly. Handcut granite spiral staircases lead to the upper tiers, with their intricate masonry and arching ceilings. Officers' quarters and privates' barracks are hung with historical photographs. From the top-level barbettes, visitors can marvel at a unique and stunning view of the underbelly of the Golden Gate Bridge.