Saturday, March 19, 2016

San Antonio Missions

Mission San Jose the Queen of Missions
San Antonio is home 5 missions that date back to the mid 1700's. The missions were not just churches but centers of community. They were established by  Spanish colonialists in a line along the San Antonio River as the Spaniards explored north and east of what is now Mexico in search of new world riches. The missions were meant to spread the Catholic faith which served as the basis of Spanish colonial society. 
Mission San Antonio de Valero was founded on the San Antonio river in 1718. It is more commonly called the Alamo.

Mission San Juan Capistrano
Mission San Juan Capistrano, Mission Senora de la Purisima Concepcion and Mission San Francisco de la Espada were moved from east Texas to their current locations on the San Antonio river in 1731.
Mission San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo is known as the queen of the missions.  It's large church like architecture and massive stone walls made it an imposing structure that discouraged attacks.

Mission Concepcion
The missions were originally un-walled communities built of wood and adobe.  They were later enclosed by stone walls as a means of protection against northern Apache and Comanche raids. Mission community life was planned like the life of a Spanish village.  Residents were taught farming, ranching, architecture, carpentry, stone masonry and blacksmithing skills. Loom weaving and spinning techniques were honed.

Mission San Francisco de la Espada
Each mission was meant to be self sufficient and to establish its own economy. The Franciscan missionaries assimilated the Coahuiltecan people whose hunter-gatherer way of life had been threatened by famine and diseases that were imported by the explorers themselves. Many Coahuiltecan opted for  protection and a stable environment  in which to raise their families. They adopted Catholic Christianity and created a unique society that combined Spanish Catholicism and American Indian Culture.

Aqueduct on the San Antonio River between the missions
The river was central to mission life. Water was diverted to irrigate crops with a series of dams, aqueducts  and gravity flow ditch systems called Acequias that are still in use today.
We thoroughly enjoyed our visits to San Antonio's missions. They are preserved and currently administered as part of the National Parks System. The missions are open to the public and the tiny churches at the missions have active congregations many of whom are mission descendents.
It is possible to drive to each mission separately and there is plenty of parking.
The missions are also connected by San Antonio's river walk. We visited on two days and were able to walk and bike the trail without difficulty.  It was a beautiful way to see the missions and to view the farm land around them.
To see more photos of our Mission visit go to our Flickr album.
San Antonio Missions  National Historic Park
2202 Roosevelt Ave
San Antonio, TX 78210
(210) 932-1001

Doors at Mission San Jose


  1. Great post, Bonnie! There is so much history in San Antonio.

  2. Thanks Jim and Diana. We really enjoyed the area and plan to return. San Antonio is a great place for people that love history and enjoy an active lifestyle.