Our visit to San Antonio began with a perfect evening stroll and romantic dinner on the Riverwalk. And, even though it turned cold and rainy the next morning, we didn’t let it stop us from setting out to explore.
We knew we wanted to visit the Alamo but were pleasantly surprised to learn there are 4 other Missions you can visit along The Mission Trail in San Antonio. If you have some extra time, we highly recommend checking out some or all of these Missions.
They are full of rich history telling the story of the Indian and Hispanic peoples in early America.
The missions of San Antonio were far more than churches, they were communities. Each was a fortified village with it’s own church, farm and ranch. Here Franciscan friars gathered native peoples, converted them to Catholicism, taught them to live as Spaniards, and helped maintain Spanish control over the Texas frontier.
The missions remain active centers of worship today and are maintained and preserved by the National Park Service through cooperative agreements with Archdiocese of San Antonio and the state of Texas.
Take time to explore and learn about the experiences of those who lived in these missions in the 1800s. You can also follow along with cell phone tours to learn more at each stop.
We started our adventure at Mission Espada, the furthest from downtown and made our way back to town along the Mission trail.
Mission San Francisco de los Tejas was the first mission in Texas, founded in 1690 near present-day Weches, Texas. In 1731, the mission was transferred to the San Antonio River area and renamed Mission San Francisco de la Espada. A friary was built in 1745, and the church was completed in 1756.
Espada Aqueduct & Acquia System
Just north of Mission Espada is the Espada Aqueduct. The Espada Aqueduct, constructed in 1745, brought water traveling in an acequia from the San Antonio River. It is still in use today and is an Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
Mission San Juan Capistrano
Originally founded in 1716 in eastern Texas, Mission San Juan was transferred in 1731 to its present location.
Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo
The Visitor Center adjacent to Mission San José is well worth the stop. They show a film there we really enjoyed, you can explore the museum, join a ranger-led tour, or browse the bookstore and gift shop.
Known as the “Queen of the Missions”, this is the largest of the missions and was almost fully restored to its original design in the 1930s by the WPA (Works Projects Administration).
It is a magnificent structure adorned with elaborate stonework. The decorations adorning the church were actually a tool for communicating and teaching the faith.
Mission San José, one of the largest, best preserved, and most beautiful missions in Texas, is a stunning place to visit. It is the largest mission of the San Antonio Missions park, so be sure to stop by!
Dedicated in 1755, Mission Concepción appears very much as it did over two centuries ago. It stands proudly as one of the country’s oldest original stone churches. It was brightly painted about 250 years ago in elaborate frescos. You can still see traces of this colorful past in places.
Mission San Antonio de Valero, commonly called the Alamo, was founded in 1718 and was the first mission on the San Antonio river. We happened to be there as they were celebrating with special events to commemorate the anniversary of the 1836 siege and battle.
What’s your favorite place to visit in Texas?