"The Spanish Legacy" San Antonio Missions National Historic Park by sswagner

San Antonio is perhaps the most historic of the large Texas cities, and the missions of San Antonio represent its earliest history. Most schools in the United States teach about the 13 colonies on the eastern seaboard and how they developed into the first states.

Yet, Texas has a much different story to tell about its development. Here, the mother country was Spain, and today there are many telltale signs of Spanish influence in Texas. In San Antonio, there are five missions still standing from the 18th Century. One of them is administered by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas while the other four are administered by the Catholic parishes and the National Park Service. These missions run in a string along the San Antonio River covering a span of about 9 miles. They were critical to Spain because a presence in Texas was necessary in order to maintain its far northern frontier in the New World. Here, the Spanish missionaries hoped to convert the natives to Catholicism and then in turn create loyal Spanish subjects out of the people. The tribes that entered the mission life would receive training in farming, ranching, and several trades such as blacksmith or stonemasonry that would be carried into present day. While the church was the hub of the mission, there was much more to these sites than just the religious aspect. Here, people learned a new way of life.

The missions of San Antonio are full of living history. Each of the churches in the four national park missions are still in operation today. Many of those who attend mass are descendants of those who originally dwelt here. The skills that the natives learned are still practiced into present day. Catholicism and the Spanish language remain very strong here. For those who desire to study Texas history, a trip to these missions is crucial. Others who enjoy scenic beauty in landscape and architecture will also enjoy a trip here. All five missions in the area can be seen in a day, either by car or perhaps even by bicycle on a nice day. All of the missions are within the city of San Antonio. The route between the missions is well marked, and there are many sites to see.

By all means take a trip out here and be sure to see more than just the Alamo if you are in the area. Many people fail to see the other four missions and do not realize that there is much more than meets the eye in this region.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:No fee to access the sites, route is easy to find and there is much information for each mission
  • Cons:fire ants
  • In a nutshell:These sites are a cornerstone in Texas history
  • Last visit to San Antonio Missions National Historic Park: Feb 2005
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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