Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Missions of San Antonio

The week before last my sweet parents watched the kids so that Byron and I could have a little (kid-less) vacation! It was so nice and so needed! We went to San Antonio with no real plans except getting some rest and spending time together. So nice!

On our first day in San Antonio we took the morning nice and slow, had a good breakfast and then went on a fun adventure! San Antonio is home to 5 old Spanish missions. The best known, of course, being the Alamo. We decided to see them all! We started in the south and found Mission Espada. 

Mission Espada was built in the late-1700s by Spanish Franciscan monks to bring their values and faith to the Native Americans in Texas. Much of the mission is gone now except the church (which is being remodeled right now). It was beautiful, quiet, and off of the beaten path of most tourists.

Next, we went north a little and found Mission San Juan. Mission San Juan came to Texas in 1731 and is still quite beautiful today! The church is still active holding bilingual services every Sunday!

I even stepped in front of the camera during our trip (with much persuading from my sweet husband!).

As we got close to the church, we could hear old hymns playing. It was so peaceful and beautiful! 

My grandparents lived in San Antonio for quite awhile when I was younger and Papaw loved the old Spanish missions and cathedrals. I was thinking of Papaw a lot while we walked around the missions. I was especially emotional when I as I opened the door to enter the sanctuary, his favorite hymn, Amazing Grace, began to play. It was such a sweet blessing and a very sweet moment.

Our next stop on the Mission trail was Mission San Jose. This was my favorite of all the missions! In fact, it is known as the "Queen of the Missions"!

The church has been restored to something very close to it's original structure. It is built from limestone in the extraordinary Spanish colonial Baroque style.

The Rose Window is known as the best example of Spanish Colonial ornamentation in the United States. It has appeared in many movies and is quite famous. There is a folktale surrounding the window that Pedro Huizar, a carpenter from Spain carved the window as a monument to his sweetheart, Rosa. However, on her way from Spain to join Pedro here in the US, Rosa was lost at sea. Pedro then carved the window as a memorial to her and a sign of enduring love. 

The entire building is covered in beautiful and ornate designs.

This is part of the convent.

The last of the missions (besides the Alamo) is Mission Concepcion. 

The walls of this mission are no longer standing, but the church itself is a wonder! It is on elf the country's oldest original stone churches. It was originally covered with bright frescoes, but besides that, very little of it's appearance has changed in over 250 years.

I think it looks like a castle in a fairy tale!

This was such a fun day! If you are looking for something to do in San Antonio, I would definitely recommend visiting the missions. It is totally free and there are a few ways you can do it, driving like we did, by kayak, or even taking a 7 mile walking/biking trail that goes by each of them. 

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