San Antonio Missions
Spanish conquistador's came to Texas in the 17th century in search of wealth and treasures in the new 'kingdom.'
In 1690, another group of Spaniards, the Franciscan friars, journeyed to the new frontier and founded some of
the earliest of 38 missions established in Texas. San Antonio was the site of five of these classic church
communities that brought Christianity to the Native Americans of the Southwest.
Each mission consisted of the church, a granary, Indian quarters, textile shops, a blacksmith and tannery, irrigated
farmlands and a ranch. Some also had a mill, fruit orchards, grape arbors and other economic advantages necessary
for survival on the northern frontier.
Except for the Alamo, all of the missions are active parish churches and are included in the San Antonio
Missions National Historical Park. San Antonio is one of the few urban areas in the United States that has
a national park included within its city limits. While all of the sites are representative of the Spanish
colonization effort in North America, the National Park Service has assigned interpretive themes to each of the
four missions contained in the park. Park interpreters emphasize one or more aspects of the missionization process at each site.
An excellent way to start your visit to the missions is to stop at the $9.5 million visitor center located at
6701 San Jose Drive, adjacent to Mission San Jose. Interactive displays and a state-of-the-art theater showing an
award-winning film provide background on the mission era in San Antonio.
In addition, work is continuing on the $17.7 million Mission Trails Project. A joint effort of the City of San
Antonio, Bexar County, San Antonio River Authority, San Antonio Water System, Texas Department of Transportation
and National Park Service, the project will link all four missions to the Alamo with a 10-mile bike/hike trail system.
A scenic 'wet' route will have a close association with the San Antonio River, while an all-weather 'dry' route will
provide alternate access to the missions. Also featuring improved way finding and signage, the Mission
Trails Project is being built in five phases with completion scheduled for 2004.
The Alamo Entrance