Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

Whether you're an armchair historian or planning a school trip, Fort McHenry is a must-see historical site when visiting Baltimore.

Witness the Birthplace of Extraordinary Historic Events

During the War of 1812, Fort McHenry defended the Baltimore harbor and stopped a British advance into the city. Surrounded by water on three sides, the brick fort was far enough from Baltimore to provide protection without endangering the city. It was the valiant defense of the fort by 1,000 Americans that inspired Francis Scott Key, a lawyer and amateur poet, to compose "The Star Spangled Banner," originally entitled "Defense of Fort McHenry."

Fort McHenry: From the 20th Century to Present Day

Administered by the National Park Service since 1933, Fort McHenry is the only area of the National Park System to be designated both a National Monument and Historic Shrine. Fort McHenry is open to the public year-round and offers visitor programs and special events that highlight the park's history.

It is a tradition that when a new flag is designed for use by the United States, it is first flown over Fort McHenry, over the same ramparts referred to in our National Anthem.

And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Visiting Fort McHenry

The fort grounds, park and visitor center open at 9 a.m. every day, closing at 5 p.m. in the winter and 6 p.m. in the summer. Closed only on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day, park visitors are welcome to bring pets as long as they are kept on a leash and out of the historic Star Fort area.

Click here to view a photo tour of Fort Mchenry.

Find out more and plan a visit to Fort McHenry today >>