From the first flag placed on Monterey soil by Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino in 1602, Monterey’s history has been closely linked with the people committed to the defense of its land, citizens, and principles.
The city of Monterey’s oldest military foundations have now vanished beneath the streets surrounding the Royal Presidio Chapel (also called the San Carlos Cathedral). The only remaining portion of the original Presidio of Monterey rises on a hillside overlooking the harbor and entrance to the bay.
Monuments in the 26-acre Lower Presidio Park honor Spanish Captain Gaspar de Portola and Father Junipero Serra who claimed California for Spain in 1770. The Sloat Monument commemorates Commodore John Drake Sloat, commander of the American military that captured Monterey in 1846. The Presidio’s ammunition arsenal, built in the early 1900’s houses the Presidio of Monterey Museum.
Today, Monterey plays host to the Defense Language Institute at the Presidio and the Naval Postgraduate School, on the grounds of the once elegant Hotel Del Monte. The Monterey Institute of International Studies is located in historic and other buildings throughout downtown Monterey. More recently California State University at Monterey Bay has been established at the former Fort Ord north of Monterey.