The Spanish Missions of San Antonio
January 15, 2009 9:05 AM   Subscribe

Everyone knows about The Alamo, (previously) but perhaps you didn't know that San Antonio has the largest concentration of Spanish Missions in the United States. Known collectively as "The San Antonio Missions," they are now part of the National Park System (map). The other four south of the Alamo are respectively, Mission Concepción, (which stands as it was built in 1755 and is the oldest unrestored church in America) and the restored Mission San Jose, Mission San Juan Capistrano and Mission Espada, (warning: some of QTVR links will resize browser) as well as a length of the Acacia system that is still used for irrigation today. The four churches also house active parishes which operate independently from the NPS.

About an hour east of San Antonio, if you're not sated by a day on the Mission Road, there's the Mission Espiritu Santo and Presidio La Bahia at Goliad. Further reading: wickipedia on the Spanish Missions in Texas.
posted by Devils Rancher (22 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I would have posted to plentiful Flickr images & sets, but that might have resulted in self-linking. I recommend Flickr as the best source for more images on the missions.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:07 AM on January 15, 2009

Spoiler: There is no basement in the Alamo.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:11 AM on January 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

Acequia system.
posted by resurrexit at 9:20 AM on January 15, 2009

That would explain why my google searches were for naught. Thanks.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:23 AM on January 15, 2009

Great post. Also, about two hours NW of San Antonio is the site of a destroyed mission to the Apache and the ruins of a presidio.
posted by resurrexit at 9:32 AM on January 15, 2009

Fabulous! I'm quite impressed by some of those websites. I figured they would just have information pages.

I've done the Mission Road tour a couple of times with guests. Of course, no matter times I go into the Alamo, I still get chills. But too many people just take in the Alamo and skip the others. I personally like Mission San Jose. The rose window is beautiful, and there is something just incredibly peaceful about being inside her walls on a sunny day. I'm amazed at the thoughts that some people spent their entire lives never leaving the walls.

Thanks for this Devils Rancher!
posted by dios at 9:32 AM on January 15, 2009

Missions accomplished!
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:41 AM on January 15, 2009

Yes, the Alamo has the famous battle, but I have found it the least interesting of the San Antonio missions from any other point of view — not to mention the one most given over to disturbing tourist-trappery.
posted by ubiquity at 9:42 AM on January 15, 2009

BOP, was that an Encyclopedia Brown/Two Minute Mystery ref? If so, damn.
posted by DU at 9:50 AM on January 15, 2009

I would have posted to plentiful Flickr images & sets, but that might have resulted in self-linking
I cleverly* clicked on the flickr icon in your profile- thanks for the links and your own gorgeous photos!
* ok, not really clever
posted by pointystick at 9:54 AM on January 15, 2009

I saw several of these in one day when I was a wee ten-year-old Girl Scout. In case you were wondering, ten-year-old Girl Scouts are not the target demographic for old Spanish missions. I think a part of me died that day.
posted by bluishorange at 10:06 AM on January 15, 2009

had a wonderful day visiting all the missions with my kids a couple months ago. outstanding day trip if you are anywhere close.
posted by jmccw at 10:08 AM on January 15, 2009

BOP, was that an Encyclopedia Brown/Two Minute Mystery ref? If so, damn.

I think it's a Pee Wee's Big Adventure reference.
And only b/c he got it in before I did...
posted by inigo2 at 10:11 AM on January 15, 2009

Everyone knows about The Alamo

Not me -- I forgot.
posted by 7segment at 10:16 AM on January 15, 2009

My recent tour of the San Juan mission over Christmas was amazing from afar, but up close the idiot tourists have carved their names into the friezes, statues, etc. Classy.

Oh and for those that don't know, the missions are in a rough part of SA (all except the's downtown by the riverwalk). Be warned if you visit.
posted by Benway at 10:27 AM on January 15, 2009

Benway, you have a strange idea of "rough," unless by that, you mean modest/working class. I'd rate it as largely older bungalows, probably a fair portion rentals, but it certainly doesn't strike me as a blown-out gangland. I found it quite calm both times I went.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:36 AM on January 15, 2009

posted by Joey Michaels at 11:02 AM on January 15, 2009

I was on long school bus trip once, cruising up I-35 from Austin to Dallas. We were bored, so we did the only fun thing there was to do: We wrote up a sign that said "Honk if you remember the Alamo" and waved it at passing motorists.

You'd be surprised (or maybe you wouldn't) how many of them actually did honk.

Also, the best part of the Alamo is the sign out front listing the many rules and regulations that apply to an Alamo visit. (The Alamo is operated by the Daughters of the Texas Republic.) It contains a long list, in legalese, of things that you're not allowed to do to the squirrels. Molesting them is a no-no, in case you were wondering.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:08 AM on January 15, 2009

I have spent hour after hour at the Presidio La Bahía. My grandmother would drop me off and go to the Goliad horse races, and I would explore all day. Eventually, the guy in charge would let me go anywhere I wanted on the site. I think the chapel with the many flags was the most interesting part. I even kissed a girl when I was 12 there. She was there with her grandparents and we somehow started running around the place together for 2 hours. Right before she left, we kissed on one of the cannon ramps. Even though I don't remember her name, I remember what she looked like, and how she smelled. I have always considered that one of my happiest days.
posted by Senator at 11:32 AM on January 15, 2009 [3 favorites]

I've visited the missions a few times and loved the experience. There's so little really "old" stuff in the western US and to see the settlements is a treat. When I've gone there have been very few people on the site so you can soak in the history.

I know I can be kicked out of the state for saying this, but I've always found the Alamo sort of meh. Too touristy.
posted by birdherder at 11:48 AM on January 15, 2009

I grew up in SA, years ago. I used to go to my Dad's church then, in a suburban Catholic parish, and I always thought it would be cool to have gone to one of the Missions instead.

I remember the first time I went to Mission San Juan and saw the Rose Window. Silly me: I didn't realize at first that I was supposed to be impressed with the stone and not the glass. :-)
posted by Robert Angelo at 5:31 PM on January 15, 2009

Goliad is indeed an amazing site. Thanks for the links!
posted by pineapple at 11:12 PM on January 15, 2009

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