The Missions of San Antonio
If you are travelling to San Antonio any time soon and want to add some history, culture and balance make sure to take a trip down Mission Road.
Accessible from the San Antonio River Walk you’ll be sure to see at least a few of the 5 Spanish Missions of Old San Antonio. Here we highlight Mission San Jose, The Alamo and Mission San Juan Capistrano.
Mission San Jose
Known as “Queen of the Missions” San Jose was the largest of the missions. A safe haven for the Apache and Comanche Indians, the mission was considered impregnable. When the community was at its largest, 350 Indians called this home.
Of the three missions highlighted here I consider the San Jose an absolute must see. Why?
- You have to drive there. It’s a 2 hour walk ( or a 10 minute drive) from the San Antonio River Walk. This way you get to drive a bit and see the surrounding, non-tourist delights of the San Antonio area. Here’s the map of the missions to help you on your way.
- The Rose Window. This window is considered the finest example of Baroque Architecture in North America and just beautiful when you take the time to notice all the details.
- The Convento and Friars Residence. This is where the arches meet the gardens and immediately reminds you of an old country Spanish courtyard tucked away for special occasions.
- You can go to Mass. If you need to escape and want to attend church you can spend your Sunday morning here. Make sure to spend time staring at the beautiful gilded interior of Mission San Jose or lighting candles for loved ones.
- Tours. You can count on someone to be around who knows all about the Indians, history and rose window since this mission also has a visitor center.
- The Indian quarters. Wrapping the property the Indian quarters are small and tucked down a long walkway of trees. Beautiful and safe you can imagine how wonderful it must have been to have a place like Mission San Jose as your home in such uncertain times.
Mission San Antonio de Valero ( The Alamo)
The Alamo is most remembered historically for a 13 day siege and the loss of 400 men during the Texas Revolution 1835-36. Interestingly, it all seems rather small when you visit because this part of the fort is only a piece of what remains of Fortress Alamo. The Alamo sits next to the historic Menger Hotel ( rumored to be haunted by dead soldiers) and flanks the edge of the San Antonio River Walk for those wanting to build in an ghost tour on their visit.
Mission San Juan Capistrano
What I loved most about Mission San Juan Capistrano was the calm.
This is a very beautiful white stucco (after restoration) mission on a large plot of land. The lawn is flanked by a few small houses that were originally part of the mission community. The 203 Indians that were in residence when it was founded ran a cloth factory, forge and a carpenter shop. All residents helped on the farms and the dam for crop irrigation was considered impressive by all.
One of the wonderful things about the missions of San Antonio is the accessibility to them all along one, very long, road. The Mission Road links the 5 missions of San Antonio with each other and with the rest of Texas and Mexico. The road was used to carry information, supplies, trade goods and warnings of attack and danger.While our modern day sensitives may not incline us to walk the 16 miles of hike and bike trail, you can find the trail maps on the National Historic Park site. I’m excited to embark on this hiking journey next time we visit.