The Alamo and San Antonio Missions

We spent a day visiting the missions of San Antonio. These early missiions were of Spanish colonial architecture and they were more than just a church. Besides the church, these communities were fortified villages with their own farm, ranch and living spaces. Franciscan friars gathered native people to convert them to Catholicism, to teach them the Spaniard ways so the Spanish could maintain control over the Texas Frontier.

Mission San Antonio de Valero is commonly called the Alamo. Founded in 1718, it was the first mission of San Antonio. During the Texas Revolution, the rebels gained control of San Antonio and the Alamo after a bloody battle. When General Antonio López de Santa Anna and his army arrived at San Antonio to put down the frontier rebellion in February 23, 1836, the Texian rebels withdrew into the safety of the old fortified mission. After two sieges and a bloody battle with the Mexican Army, many buildings in the Alamo mission compound were damaged from heavy cannonade. Further damages were made by the Mexican Army. They knocked down some of the outer walls of the fortified compound so it could not be easily refortified by the Texians.

Had we not done the tour, we wouldn’t have known that much of the Alamo Plaza used to be part of the fortified mission. The standing structure of what’s left of the Alamo is only a section of the compound.

Mission Alamo

The other missions along the San Antonio River are spread out on The Mission Trail, with Mission Concepcion being the closest, 3 miles away from the Alamo. These remaining missions are now part of the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park.

Mission Concepcion

Mission San Jose

San Jose church entrance

Mission San Jose is the largest standing structure of the Spanish missions. The middle picture shows a living space, and the last picture shows the first and only wheat mill of the Spanish missions.

Mission Espada

Mission San Juan

We enjoyed the history tour. A lot of the compounds are in ruins or are no longer present. However, the churches are all standing and we were able to go inside for most of them. If it wasn’t too hot, we probably would have taken the tour by bikes on the bike trail. If you visit when it isn’t so hot, I’d recommend that over driving.

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