I’ve only been in San Antonio a few weeks, but I decided to make a quick trip to Spain.
Many parts of what is now Texas were colonized by Spain. Between the years of 1690 and 1821, “New Spain” acquired many cultural practices of Spain, including the Spanish language and religion. In an attempt to convert the “savage” natives of the area, the Spaniards set up churches. These churches were more than just churches; the Native Americans lived at the compound, learned the Spanish way of life, and participated in Catholicism.
There were 26 missions in Texas. The most well-known mission is The Alamo. Many people visit this landmark while in San Antonio, but most miss out on the other missions in the city. These 4 other missions, in my opinion, are grander and more beautiful than the Alamo.
San Jose, known as the “Queen of the Missions”, was built in 1720. It is the largest mission in San Antonio and once hosted over 300 Native Americans.
Mission Espada has been around since 1731. There’s really not too many building left that existed before the US was even a country!
Mission Concepcion is the oldest unrestored stone church in the US. This mission is the one that looks the most like it did in the 1700s.
The missions are part of the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. Admission is free, and the inside of all of the churches are open until 5 each evening. Feel free to wander the outside of the missions after 5, but I highly recommend getting a look around inside each church. You will need to drive to each mission, unless you plan to spend a bit more time there by biking or hiking. We spent almost 4 hours there, so, if you go, make a day of it. Make sure you visit the visitor center first, close to San Jose. There is a neat 15 minute documentary that will explain some things to you before you begin.
So if you are planning to come to San Antonio, Texas anytime soon, please don’t miss out on these jewels of the city! And contrary to the infamous phrase, please do forget the Alamo!