San Antonio's Mission Trail is an incredible cultural and historical resource that exemplifies the city's long and illustrious past. Along the San Antonio River is a group of five colonial-era Spanish Catholic missions known as 'The Mission Trail.' These missions were founded in the 18th century by Catholic missionaries.
UNESCO recognizes the missions as World Heritage sites because of their significance to the historical, cultural, and religious legacy of the Spanish colonial period. Unique in its own way, each mission provides insight into a different period in San Antonio's history.
The Mission Trail is more than just a collection of historic missions; it's also a window into the region's vibrant cultural history. Along the Mission Trail, you can experience the rich cultural heritage of San Antonio, which is a unique blend of Spanish, Mexican, and American influences, as well as sample some of the city's famous Tex-Mex food and attend one of the many colorful festivals.
How to explore Mission Trail?
- Start out at the Alamo, Texas's most recognizable landmark and a symbol of the state's independence. There is a museum at the Alamo that features exhibits and relics related to the battle between Texan and Mexican forces in 1836.
- See Mission Concepcion, the oldest stone church in the United States that has not been restored. You can get a feel for what life was like for both the Spanish missionaries and the native converts who accepted their message by seeing this mission.
- Mission San Jose, the largest of the five missions and often called the 'Queen of the Missions,' gives you a taste of the area's illustrious past. Exhibits at the mission's visitor center shed light on the lives and times of San Jose's early residents.
- A visit to the quaint Mission San Juan Capistrano will give you a taste of what life was like for the first Californians. Observe how early settlers lived off the land by exploring the mission's ancient granary and irrigation system, both of which are still in use today.
- Mission Espada, the southernmost, is also the only one to retain its ancient aqueduct. The bell tower and chapel at the mission are beautiful specimens of Spanish colonial design for you to visit.
- Beautiful views of the San Antonio River and its surrounding area can be observed from several points along the Mission Trail. Besides walking and biking, try visiting the trail on the horseback ride.