San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
- Type: Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing
- Time to Spend: 2 hours to Half Day
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Aside from the Alamo, this is where all of San Antonio's historic missions -- Mission San José, Mission Concepción, Mission Espada and Mission San Juan -- are located, making this a must-see site for history buffs. Established along the San Antonio River in the 18th century by Franciscan friars, the missions stand as a tribute to Spain's successful attempt to spread Catholicism through the Southwest and into Mexico. Each mission (located approximately three miles apart from one another) is beautiful in its own way, from the undisturbed frescos at Mission Concepción to the Romanesque arches of Mission San Juan. You can hike or bike the Mission Trail (there are also roads for visitors with cars) past each individual structure to learn about how the friars lived side-by-side with Native Americans. Scattered around the missions are remnants of granaries, workshops and water mills.
Located a few miles south of Downtown San Antonio, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is open every day with free admission. Each mission has its own visitor's center (the main center being at Mission San José). Visit the National Park Service website for details.