The Five Missions of San Antonio
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 Alamo, have been named a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Organisation for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO).
The Historic Missions | San Antonio
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.
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.
The missions are walled compounds encompassing a church and buildings, where the 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the 18th-century, Spain’s military and economic interests in northern frontier waned, and support for the missions was withdrawn.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
Allow 3-4 hours to explore the 18th century architecture and historic gardens. For further information on each Mission visit click here.
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.
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 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
A group known as the ‘Daughters of the Republic of Texas’ convinced the government to buy the Alamo 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.
Bike and Hike Trails
San Antonio Bike Share – B-Cycle Click Here
Free and Open to the Public
Click on the icons to see location addresses of the San Antonio Missions
Mission San José
Mission San Juan
9101 Graf Road
Looking for the Best San Antonio Sights to Visit?
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.
Best Light Weight Handbags
Do you suffer from heavy shoulder syndrome? Carrying a handbag around all day while travelling can be equivalent to having a brick on your shoulder! Although, leather handbags are a beautiful fashion accessory; the weight of leather can contribute to the overall load.
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