"~ San Juan Capistrano ~" Top 5 Page for this destination San Juan Capistrano by Yaqui

San Juan Capistrano Travel Guide: 157 reviews and 482 photos

During its simple beginnings, this was home Native Americans called the Acjachemen tribe who the Spanish, called JuaneƱos. When Father Serra was establishing the missions around 1776, he named this mission here after the Franciscan saint Giovanni da Capistrano (1386-1456). A huge stone church was built that was 180 feet long, five stories high at the sanctuary and was topped with seven stone domes and a bell tower. A tribute to their faith. Sadly in 1812 an earthquake struck destroying it and killing 40 faithful followers. They church was never reconstructed. Another was built in 1788 and is still in service. Not as grand, but just as beautiful.

Because of the missions, communities started to spring up around them. Around 1821 the Spanish had to reliquenish control over to the Mexican government which privitised them and they were bought and sold. It was a dark time for the missions since they were either went into decay or stripped to build other homes in the area. Lucky for this mission, was bought by Don Juan Forster who lived in the mission and kept his trade goods stored in the Serra Chapel, so it faired better than the other missions. With the help of Msgr. St. John O'Sullivan, the California missions found a champion who was able to save some of the structures and kept the spirit alive and how important these structures were to our history.

The Los Rios District is one of the oldest communities that started when the mission was being established around 1794 and many of these adobe structures are still being lived in.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Lots of wonderful history~
  • Cons:Traffic is terrible!!!!
  • In a nutshell:Visit during the off season or you'll be stuck in traffic~~~
  • Last visit to San Juan Capistrano: Jan 2010
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (28)

Comments (12)

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Jun 4, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    Another nice place, but I heard they now charge $8 to get into the mission to see the swallows. WOW, quite a tything

  • msbrandysue's Profile Photo
    Sep 1, 2011 at 8:50 PM

    I've always wanted to come here! Great tips to give a representation of SJC :)

  • LoriPori's Profile Photo
    Mar 1, 2011 at 3:07 AM

    Your Capistrano page brings back many fond memories of this beautiful mission. The gardens are especially beautiful thanks to the many volunteers. I still have a necklace depicting the swallows of Capistrano.

  • ncfg's Profile Photo
    Dec 6, 2010 at 2:39 AM

    I love the place, thanks for the commentary and great photos!

  • Mikebb's Profile Photo
    Dec 4, 2010 at 8:18 PM

    Nice photos and history. Is this historic place close to San Francisco?

  • nicolaitan's Profile Photo
    Nov 30, 2010 at 1:58 PM

    wonderful page of history and photographs. email coming.

  • kyoub's Profile Photo
    Nov 27, 2010 at 2:33 PM

    Another excellent page, Dee. I wanted to go here but haven't been yet. Sorry to hear about the swallows not returning in recent yrs.

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Nov 26, 2010 at 2:13 PM

    An interesting new page about this historic site! Too bad about all the cars, though. Maybe that's why the swallows have stopped coming back to Capistrano in recent years.

  • hopang's Profile Photo
    Nov 23, 2010 at 12:40 PM

    Lovely San Juan Capistrano travel page. Great Stone Church is certainly a major attraction there. As usual you provide us with fascinating photographs. Thanks for visiting our Netherlands and Luxembourg travel pages. ~ho & pang

  • Kuznetsov_Sergey's Profile Photo
    Nov 21, 2010 at 10:40 AM

    Interesting page about a place I've never heard about! It's a pity that the old church was never reconstructed after the earthquake ... Thank you Dee for sharing!


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