- Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing Type
- 2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
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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 success in spreading Catholicism through the Southwest and into Mexico. Each mission (located approximately 3 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. Recent visitors suggest taking advantage of the free tours offered by the park rangers, noting how much more they learned during their visit. You can also 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 daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission is free. You can get to the site by car or bus, or even on foot or bike if you take the trail. Each mission has its own visitor center (the main center is located at Mission San José). Visit the National Park Service website for details.
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