One of my favorite things to do when traveling is to visit historic home, missions, battlefields and state parks and more. Not only because of the educational value in it but because we get to step back in time and learn about how others lived and interacted during a certain period.
San Antonio’s National Historic Park in Texas consists of 4 missions. Mission San Jose being the “Queen of the Missions is also the park’s visitor center. As we pulled up we found ourselves visiting the park store, museum and enjoying a short movie called Gente de Razón, which tells the story of the native people of 18th-century south Texas and their role in colonizing New Spain.
The missions along with the Alamo is one of the main reasons I wanted to visit San Antonio with my family. San Jose mission along with the other Spanish missions were not just churchesas one with think. They were communities with the church the focus also maintained and colonized New Spain over 250 years ago. Mission San José shows the visitor how all the missions might have looked which has been preserved and fully restored to its original design in the 1930s by the WPA (Works Projects Administration).
Mission San José is actually more detailed than I had expected. I assumed it would be very similar to the Forts I have visited over the years but the detailing, perhaps because it was a church, was exquisite. A Park Ranger or Volunteer are on hand to offer a free guided tour (tours last between 45-60 minutes) of one of the four missions and offer additional information more regarding the 18th-century Spanish Colonial period, we opted to tour the mission on our own.
As you can see by the pictures, the detailing is impeccable. The original church was made of straw, brush and mud was built in 1720. Constructed in 1768, a new church was built which is still standing today was built of limestone which helped preserve the church over the centuries.
In fact, church services still continue at several of the missions and are performed as they were originally performed over 200 years ago. All of the missions are complimentary to visit but donations are accepted in order to maintain and preserve the structures.
The mission consisted quarters which housed Native Americans, soldiers, the homeless, and bandits. The living quarters also included small oven domes which surround the courtyard.
The church facade pictured below features from a cross representing Jesus Christ, St. Joseph ( or San José) holding the infant Jesus, St. Dominic and St. Francis, Our Lady of Guadalupe (the Virgin Mary), and St. Joachim and St. Anne holding the infant Mary. The carved portal doors lead directly into the church interior.
If you enjoy walking or riding your bike, the Mission Riverwalk Hike and Bike Trail is available as well as the Bike Share Station. If your not able to enjoy the trail, each mission is easy to find and within a few minutes of each other with free parking for all guests.
If you are planning a trip to San Antonio, please include the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park – San José mission.