San Antonio’s Missions and Why You Should Go!


If you’re thinking of moving to San Antonio or are new here, you’ll find this amazing city has no shortage of fun things to do. If you’ve lived here a while it’s easy to forget just what a rich cultural heritage we have. The historic missions are a perfect example of that.

Many people don’t know that the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is, as of 2015, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is therefore preserved and protected as well as revered the world over. We have five missions in the city, including the well-known Alamo. The other missions, which are part of the park, include San Jose, Concepcion, San Juan Capistrano and Espada.

These Spanish Colonial compounds were established in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries by Catholic religious orders in an effort to teach Christianity to the local natives. The four in the park are still active churches to this day, and visitors are welcome to attend.

Thanks to the city’s Mission Reach, an 8-mile stretch of recreational trails, pavilions, picnic areas and portals to the missions, it makes for a great family bike ride or walking excursion, particularly in the winter months. One of the really interesting aspects of the missions which shouldn’t be overlooked are the acequias (irrigation systems), a significant accomplishment of the Spanish Colonial residents.

You can still see some of these ancient and complex systems of dams, gates and irrigation canals (built as early as 1720) which were part of the infrastructure that allowed them to have a thriving community by providing not only drinking water but agricultural and landscape irrigation.

San Jose

San Jose is the largest mission, established in 1720. Many of the natives that were incorporated into the mission lived and worked here. The majestic church, which is made of limestone, was then built in 1768 and is still the shining star of the mission trail. San Jose, the largest of the four, has a bookstore, museum and visitor’s center where you can watch a film called Gente de Razon about the daily life at the mission. Not too long ago, San Jose received a two-million-dollar renovation. Here, you’ll spot stunning carvings, quatrefoil patterns, flying buttresses and the famed “Rose Window.”

Mission Concepcion

Considered the best preserved of the missions found in Texas, Mission Concepcion was founded by Franciscan friars in 1716 in East Texas and moved to San Antonio in 1731. Although the exterior paintings have long-faded, you can still see impressive original frescos that are worth the visit.

Mission San Juan Capistrano

San Juan too was built in East Texas and moved to San Antonio in 1731 and is comprised of a church, priest’s quarters and a granary, and a gorgeous Romanesque archway. Adventurous visitors should also take advantage of a self-guided nature trail that leads to the river from this mission.

Mission Espada

Mission Espada was established in 1690 near Augusta and moved to San Antonio, also in 1731. This southernmost of the four missions in the park, this is where you’ll discover an exceptional example of an acequia, which served to provide water to the fields.

After you’re done exploring, give us call us at 210-494-5400 to discuss your new home. If you wish to be added to our private email list for our newsletter, please sign up here.