San Antonio Missions

The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is a gem of the history of San Antonio, Texas. Showcasing four Catholic missions along the San Antonio River, these beautifully preserved Spanish-style buildings are some of the best-preserved remains of the Spanish colonization of the southwest United States. While these glimpses of history are run as a national park established in 1975, parts of each mission are still owned by the Archdiocese of San Antonio and actively function as parishes.

San Antonio Missions Trail

San Antonio Missions Trail
San Antonio Missions Trail

The San Antonio Missions are located on a trail the runs alongside the San Antonio River. Mission Concepcion is located the farthest north. Originally established in 1731 by Franciscan friars, Mission Concepcion is the best preserved of all San Antonio missions. Farther south is Mission San José, built in 1768. The next mission to the south is Mission San Juan, which moved to San Antonio in 1731. Mission Espada is the farthest south of the four missions, which also moved to San Antonio in 1731. Technically, there is a fifth San Antonio mission located upstream of the San Antonio River from Mission Concepcion. It is called Mission de Valero, better known as The Alamo. However, it is owned by the State of Texas and is not considered part of the national park.

The San Antonio Missions Historic National Park includes numerous other historic sites. Across the river, east of Mission San Juan, is the Espada Aqueduct, listed as a National Historic Landmark since 1964. The Ethel Wilson Harris House also falls within the park’s borders. Built in 1956, this modern home is an excellent example of Wrightian architecture, an interesting juxtaposition among its older surroundings.

San Antonio Missions Tours

One of the best ways to see the San Antonio Missions is to take a guided tour. Various San Antonio tour companies offer expert guides who take groups of people along the trail, sharing valuable history and insight of the park’s attractions. Tours are available on foot, by bus, and even by bicycle.

San Antonio Missions Map

San Antonio Missions Map
San Antonio Missions Map

These five missions helped form the beginning of the city of San Antonio. While their positions along the San Antonio River make it easy for travelers to visit them, a map of the missions in recommended. A park visitor center is located near Mission San José.

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