A Top-Tier Texan Draw: The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
Measuring about 820 acres, the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in south-central Texas. Guests visiting this national park will have the opportunity to explore four exceptionally preserved Spanish missions, most of which date back to the 18th century. Built by Spanish Catholic colonists, these missions served as both houses of worship as well as residences for colonists and Native Americans. In addition to churches, all of these missions had water systems, ranches, granaries, and living quarters. As people tour these missions, they can get a better sense of the unique community that emerged here between the Spanish and the Natives. Recently, UNESCO gave this national park, along with the nearby Alamo Mission, World Heritage status for its fascinating history and architectural grandeur.
A Closer Look: The Four Missions In San Antonio’s Park
All of the missions in this National Park are situated along the San Antonio River basin and are named as follows: Espada, San Juan, San Jose, and Concepción. Mission Espada is the southernmost mission and Concepción is at the northern extreme. In addition to welcoming tour groups, these missions continue to perform religious services every week. Even if you’re not a Catholic , you’ll never forget witnessing a Mass in one of these storied churches. In addition to the actual missions, there are two other noteworthy attractions in this National Park. First, there’s the Espada Aqueduct, which w as completed in the 1730s. Built by a group of Franciscan monks, this impressive aqueduct continues to serve the Mission Espada and has been listed as a National Historic Landmark. One more recent building on this National Park’s property is the Ethel Wilson Harris House. Made out of stone and concrete, this two-story house was named after a prominent member of the Works Progress Administration in southern Texas. Built in the 1950s, this house is considered a glorious example of Modern architecture.
Where’s The Alamo?
Without a doubt, the Alamo Mission is one of the most iconic attractions in the Lone Star State. Founded in 1718 by Spanish missionaries, the Alamo’s main claim to fame is that is was the site of a significant battle during the Texas Revolution. Although the Alamo is not officially a part of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, it’s not far from the Mission Concepción. So don’t worry, you could easily add a stop to the Alamo on your tour of the Missions National Park.
Important Info On Missions National Park
Standard operating hours for the Missions National Park are from 9AM to 5PM every day of the week. Note: this park is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day and during government shutdowns. Tourists will find the main Visitor Center at Mission San José where they can learn more about the complex, schedule a tour, and watch an educational film. The official address of this park is 6701 San Jose Drive, which is only a 15-minute drive south of Downtown San Antonio. To learn more about these missions before your visit, please check out the National Park Service’s official webpage at https://www.nps.gov/saan/index.htm. Next in line, Morgan’s Wonderland More info here,