Those who have already been to Monterey will remember the place mostly for its lush landscapes and laidback vibe as exemplified by its romantic harbors, tantalizing adobe houses, and other scenic beauties that capture 21st century modern American lifestyle. These features alone are surefire tourist-drawers that make this Californian county one of the most frequently visited spot in the American West Coast today. Apart from the mesmerizing sceneries of Monterey, however, there are more reasons why a lot of people opt to visit this place than any other spot in California. Those who have a knack for history may find Monterey not lacking of historical landmarks such as the Custom House, Colton Hall, and of course, the Presidio of Monterey.

Map of Presidio of Monterey

Presidio of Monterey History

Situated in Monterey, California, the Presidio of Monterey is  a US Army Installation that is still active until today. It shares historic ties with the Spanish colonial era. At present, Presidio of Monterey houses the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center or the DLI-FLC.

The Presidio of Monterey has a rich historical heritage. Since the early 17th century, when Sebastian Vizcaino discovered and claimed the area for Spain, the Monterey Peninsula has been an integral part of American military history. Vizcaino dubbed the area the Bay Monterey in recognition and honor of Gaspar de Zuniga Y Acevedo — his benefactor. Zuniga was then the count of Monterrey as well as the viceroy of Mexico. Mexico was then called New Spain.

In May 1770, the bay area of Monterey was usurped by a minor Spanish expedition. The head of the religious component of the expedition was Junipero Serra who was a Franciscan priest. The military component of the expedition, on the other hand, was led by Captain Don Gaspar de Portola.

On June 3 of the same year, Father Serra immediately celebrated a Thanksgiving mass while Captain Portola officially colonized, in the name of the Spanish government, the upper part of California. To evade Russian attacks from the North, defense ports and missions at the southern part of Monterey Bay was established. This was in accordance to the original plan of Portola to fortify the defense component of the area against any military threats. In fact, this particular action was spurred by Spains fear against the then expanding Russian New World Empire.

Due to fear of possible Russian invasion, the Spanish government reconsidered the western American coast. The Presidio of Monterey was originally one of the four presidios established by the Spanish colonial government in the state of California. The four presidios also include 21 missions. Originally, the Presidio of Monterey consisted of adobe structures located adjacent to the Lake El Estero. Today, this area is the location of downtown Monterey.

Renovation in the Late 2000’s

In 2008, the Royal Presidio Chapel which is the forts original Spanish mission, was renovated and reopened. The layout of the renovated Presidio, however, is just a mere shadow of its former self. Originally, the Presidio was surrounded by 11 cannons and it was then called El Castillo. In 1792, it was erected on the area which is now part of the modern day garrison of Monterey. The Mexican turnover of the place in 1822, however, resulted in to the near destruction of the Presidio.

Presidio of Monterey Current Awards and Recognition

Today, the Presidio has become one of the most awarded military installations in the country. Below are some of the most current recognitions and awards that it has garnered.

  • Army Communities of Excellence Award
  • The US Armed Forces recognized the excellence of the Presidio of Monterey in April 18, 2001.
  • Quality-of-Life Award

Due to a special team-up between Monterey Salinas Transit, a local mass transportation firm, and the Presidio, the garrison received the Superior Quality of Life Award. The team-up materialized under the Transportation Incentive Program and the Mass Transportation Benefit Program (National Honors for A Winning RCI Project)

The Presidio also bagged the highest award in the annual PHMAs Top Army RCI Project. The RCI of the Presidio gained top recognition for its excellent projects, namely property management, project asset management, financial management and development, and maintenance management.

Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center

Apart from its indelible mark in the American military history, the Presidio continues to have significant function by being home to the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center. The DIFLC is a research and educational institution of Department of Defense or DoD. It is responsible for various activities focused on educating members of the DoD on assigned languages. These formal learning activities include, among many others, the Defense Language Program. Curriculum development, planning, and second-language acquisition research are other functions included in the program.

Rigorous Academic Regimen

The educational regimen at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center is rigid. Basically, students need to attend six-hour classes on a daily basis as well as a two-hour homework routine every night. The DLIFLC and its units ensure that all aspect of student progress are carefully monitored in order to give the students excellent opportunity for academic excellence. The objective of the program is to train the best warrior-linguists needed by the government to ensure peace and security locally and abroad. Aside from the language training, each military service consists of additional service-unique training to further enhance the learning experience.

A Legacy of Military Prestige and Excellence

The Presidio of Monterey is a very essential part of the whole US military complex. Apart from its historical significance as a major component of the whole US defense structure, the garrison today has become an important training ground for warrior-linguists that are vital to the whole American military machinery. You can find more information about the Presidio of Monterey by visiting The official web site of the garrison will provide you detailed information on every aspect concerning this important military post.

Video – History of Presidio