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Sites from 1700s Sites from 1800s

Historical Sites of the 1700s

If you're into history of the southwest, you will find San Antonio particularly appealing.  I won't attempt here to give you a synopsis of the history of San Antonio.  You best can get it from my walking tour book. Below is a listing of the key historical sites.

Historical sites of the 1700s

There are five church missions in town.  All built along the San Antonio River, the Alamo is just one of the five.  The missions were more than just churches.  They comprised an area of land which was farmed and devoted to converting Indians and holding the frontier.  The mission churches and other buildings took, in some cases, many years to complete so the mission history is oftentimes much greater than just the date a certain building was completed.  There are very few places in the U.S. that are as old as what San Antonio has to offer.

Missions

The Alamo, Mission San Antonio de Valero  The current site of the Alamo is the third location of the mission headquarters and the second stone church building.  This building was begun in 1756.  The previous stone building begun in 1744 had fallen down.  Prepare yourself for the view.  You WILL be disappointed.  This church is downtown and surrounded by buildings.  Sorry, the city just simply grew around the place.  I know, you think of it from the movies, somewhere out in the middle of nowhere.  Well, it's not true.  Not any more, anyway.  Our sensitivity about this is so vain, that the city has zoning restrictions prohibiting anything being built behind the Alamo to a height that could possibly be seen from in front of the Alamo.  That image of the Alamo with clear blue skies behind it is illusory.  Only in a very narrow window of view is that true.

A book could be (several have been) written about this place.  I won't attempt it here.  Just be advised that most all the fighting of the "battle of the Alamo" took place in front of the church building or in the building itself.  As a tourist you will find yourself behind the building having walked into the Alamo and exited in its rear.  You will actually be walking in what used to be the animal pens of the church.

 

Mon-Sat 9am-5:30pm; Sun 10am-5:30pm
Adm: Free

Mission San Jose  The granary building is the oldest building to remain intact in Texas.  Completed prior to 1749.  The mission was begun in 1720.  The main church built 1768-1777.  The church continues to function as a Catholic church and one is welcome to have mass at this historic site.  This is a great mission and really gives one the feel of what it might have looked like in that era.  If you're going to see any mission, this is the one to see.  I recommend it.

All Mission hours: daily 9am-5pm
Refer to their web pages for more information
For Mission San Jose, take Bus Route 42

 

Mission Concepcion  A most important battle prior to the battle for the Alamo took place close by here in 1835.  Mission established here in 1731, the church was built 1735-1755.

Mission San Francisco de la Espada  Founded here in 1731.  The first church, built in 1745, had collapsed by 1778.  Subsequently rebuilt in 1785 and later robbed of its building materials, the present chapel building was constructed in 1868.

The Espada Aqueduct  Close by Mission San Francisco de la Espada is the Espada Aqueduct.  Constructed from 1731 to 1745, this aqueduct is the only Spanish aqueduct in the U.S.

Mission San Juan Capistrano  The chapel building is older than the church.  The chapel was in use by 1756 while the older church building was still in construction in 1785.

Other Sites

San Fernando Cathedral  The precursor to this cathedral was a small civil church begun in 1738 but not finished till 1758, the walls of which comprise the sanctuary portion of the current Cathedral.  This church was never a part of the mission projects.  The missions were constructed for the Indian population.  San Fernando church was built for the civil population of 55 Canary Islanders brought over by the Spanish King Philip V to create a permanent civil establishment.  Don't believe their claim to having the oldest structure in Texas.  That claim belongs to the granary building of Mission San Jose.  They also claim to have the bones of the defenders of the Alamo.  Don't you believe it.

115 Main Plaza
210-227-1297
Viewing times: 9am-4:30pm

Governor's Palace  Not actually a palace, this small house is the sole example in Texas of a Spanish aristocrat's home in the 1700s.  Completed in 1749 it was the official residence of the military captain in charge of the province.  In the governor's absence (which was the norm), the captain was the sole authority of the province.

105 Plaza de Armas (but everyone in town will know it as Military Plaza or where City Hall is)
210-224-0601
Mon-Sat 9am-5pm; Sun 10am-5pm
Adm: Free to $2.00/adult

 

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