Baltimore Sights

Fort McHenry

  • E. Fort Ave. Map It
  • Locust Point
  • Military Site
  • Fodor's Choice

Published 07/23/2015

Fodor's Review

This star-shaped brick fort is forever associated with Francis Scott Key and "The Star-Spangled Banner," which Key penned while watching the British bombardment of Baltimore during the War of 1812. Key had been detained onboard a truce ship, where he had been negotiating the release of one Dr. William Beanes, when the bombardment began; Key knew too much about the attack plan to be released. Through the next day and night, as the battle raged, Key strained to be sure, through the smoke and haze, that the flag still flew above Fort McHenry—indicating that Baltimore's defenders held firm. "By the dawn's early light" of September 14, 1814, he saw the 30- by 42-foot "Star-Spangled Banner" still aloft and was inspired to pen the words to a poem (set to the tune of an old English drinking song). The flag that flew above Fort McHenry that day had 15 stars and 15 stripes, and was hand-sewn for the fort. A visit to the fort includes a 15-minute history film, guided tour, and frequent living-history displays on summer weekends. To see how the formidable fortifications might have appeared to the bombarding British, catch a water taxi from the Inner Harbor to the fort instead of driving.

  • Cannon, Fort McHenry National Monument, Baltimore, Maryland

    Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock

Sight Information


E. Fort Ave., Baltimore, Maryland, 21230, United States

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Sight Details:

  • $7
  • Memorial Day–Labor Day, daily 9–6; Labor Day–Memorial Day, daily 9–5

Published 07/23/2015


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