San Antonio Missions National Historical Park

Five Missions of San Antonio

Four Spanish colonial missions: Concepción, San Juan, San Jose’ and Espada are included in the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, which officially opened in 1983. These four missions, along with the most well-known, the Alamo were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2015 by United Nations Organisation for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO). 

You may wonder why these missions were built?  The five 18th century frontier missions were established along the San Antonio River (Río de San Antonio) by Franciscan missionaries and Catholic Religious orders. The primary role for building these settlements was to help spread Christianity among the local natives. 

The Historic Missions | San Antonio Texas

san antonio missions

In the early 1700s, Apache and Comanche raided from the north; the arrival of Europeans brought devasting diseases, and drought lingered. Survival for some lay in the missions which these people seized. These Spanish missions were a frontier institution that sought to incorporate indigenous people into the Spanish colonial empire. Struggling under such hardships, the native people were relatively willing recruits for the missionaries.

Work Begins

The mission Indians learned to farm, quarry and build with stone. They found food and refuge in the missions in exchange for labour and submission to religious conversion. The Friar used the tenets of Catholic faith to teach them a new way of life. By combining specialised skills, the mission Indians achieved a sense of security and were protected, sheltered, fed, and clothed. However, they also paid a price! They were expected to give up their own religion, culture, and traditions.

san antonio missions

The San Antonio missions are walled compounds encompassing a church and buildings; where friars / priests and local Native Americans lived and worked. At the end of the 18th-century, Spain’s military and economic interests in northern frontier waned, and support for the missions was withdrawn. In San Antonio, all five missions were secularised by the turn of the century.

San Antonio’s History is All Around

How much time is needed to fully appreciate the mission trips?  Allow 3-4 hours to explore the 18th century architecture, historic gardens and experience the natural and cultural history of the San Antonio Missions. For further information on each Mission visit click here

Getting There

From north to south is approximately 6.5M/10.5K: Mission Concepcion, Mission San José, Mission San Juan Capistrano, and Mission Espada. Each mission is about 2.5M/4K from the next mission. It is very easy to drive from mission to mission, with parking and restrooms available at each mission site. Each mission is situated near the San Antonio River, and are connected by Mission Rd.

Alamo Mission

300 years on, the Alamo has shaped the city of San Antonio. Alamo is the Spanish word for ‘Cottonwood’. The first stone of the Alamo was laid in 1744 and the first mission on the San Antonio River.

The Alamo museum is located in downtown San Antonio in the Alamo Plaza district, the site of the famous ‘Battle of the Alamo’. In 1836, Mexican soldiers attacked the Alamo and most of the soldiers of the Texan Army were killed. The Mexican soldiers stayed for a while, but eventually left Texas.

The best known mission, the Alamo was built by the Spanish Empire as a place to educate the local American Indians about Christianity. The mission became a non-religious compound in 1793 and was abandoned very soon afterwards. In approximately 1803, a Mexican Army group that called themselves the ‘Second Flying Company’ of San Carlos de Parras, took over the abandoned fortress to use for their base. It was later surrendered to the Texan Army, subsequently becoming the site of the ‘Battle of the Alamo’.

Daughters Of The Republic Of Texas

Daughters of the Republic of Texas is the oldest patriotic women’s organisation in Texas and one of the oldest in the U.S. The women convinced the government to buy the Alamo Mission in 1905 so it could be restored.  After a court battle over who would oversee the restoration, the state took control and restoration began in 1912. Later in 1912 the site was given back to the ‘Daughters of the Republic of Texas’ and has remained in their custody ever since.

Today, the Alamo is a public monument and is considered to be a shrine to the heroes who tried to defend it in the ‘Battle of the Alamo’.  For further Alamo history click here.

San Antonio Missions Trail | Bike, Hike & Paddling Trails

There are about 10M/16K of Mission trails that connects all four missions and extends north to The Alamo. The pedestrian and bike trail follows the San Antonio River. B-Cycle stations are located at each mission park site, and you can rent a bike for a 24-hour period for $12. For up to date rates click here

or download the B-Cycle app

Bike must be docked every 60 minutes when renting a B-Cycle. Spring and Summer months can be extremely hot in San Antonio and there is not much shade on the trail, so always carry adequate water.
San Antonio Bike Share – B-Cycle Click Here

Kayaking San Antonio

Visitors can paddle their way down the 8 Mile Mission Reach Trail in a variety of water crafts – a kayak, pedal kayak or canoe. The paddling trail starts from Downtown San Antonio to San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. SARA (San Antonio River Authority) Paddling Trail and tour company information.  

San Antonio Missions Trail | Bike, Hike & Paddling Trails

There are about 10M/16K of Mission trails that connects all four missions and extends north to The Alamo. The pedestrian and bike trail follow the San Antonio River. B-Cycle stations are located at each mission park site, and you can rent a bike for a 24-hour period for $12. Bike must be docked every 60 minutes when renting a B-Cycle. Spring and Summer months can be extremely hot in San Antonio and there is not much shade on the trail, so always carry adequate water.
San Antonio Bike Share – B-Cycle Click Here

Kayaking San Antonio

Visitors can paddle their way down the 8 Mile Mission Reach Trail in a variety of water crafts – kayak, pedal kayak or canoe. The paddling trail starts from Downtown San Antonio to San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. SARA (San Antonio River Authority) Paddling Trail and tour company information

Mission Concepción
807 Mission Road
San Antonio
Mission San José
6701 San Jose Drive
San Antonio
Mission San Juan
9101 Graf Road
San Antonio
Mission Espada
10040 Espada Road
San Antonio
Mission Alamo
300 Alamo Plaza,
San Antonio

Looking for the Best San Antonio Sights to Visit?

San Antonio Viator Tours can help. They have been helping travellers discover destinations and experiences since 1999. Check out the San Antonio Missions Tours here on Viator.

 

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 Longchamp have a gorgeous range of Nylon Totes with Leather Straps, but for the more budget conscious, COOFIT offer a great alternative at half the price. #amazon #coofit #longchamp #travel #fashion

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God Bless America | US Tourist Visa Requirements

Thinking about taking a vacation in the United States? Make sure you check out my US Visa Blog for all the necessary visa information and requirements. For a list of all my U.S. Blogs click here. Check out some of the other U.S. blogs for more inspiration – Magnolia Pearl in Texas wine country; New Orleans Shotgun Houses; Nashville Music Scene; Outstanding in the Field Long Table Dinner.

San Antonio Texas celebrates 300 years with a month long festival in 2018

The Fiesta city was filled with colour, music, food and wine and charity events. Here’s some of the highlights and history of the fiesta in San Antonio.  11 days Fiesta San Antonio blog.  

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