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San José Mission, one of the many Missions along the San Antonio River…. Founded in 1720 by Fray Antonio Margil de Jesús, it’s one of the most famous Missions in San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. Mission San José was known as the “Queen of the Missions.”
Hopping off the trolley at Mission San José, we made our way to the Visitor’s Center, where we found water and a souvenir shop. Being the beginning of June, it was quite hot outside; we didn’t let that stop us from enjoying the beauty of this historical treasure, though.
The Mission itself is quite majestic, even from a distance. You realize just how large and magnificent this compound is as you enter its gates. Walls were made of stone and surrounded the entire compound. According to history, the walls were built for defense; Mission residents had to learn to use firearms to protect themselves from Comanche and Apache attackers.
Since the Missions were financed by the Spanish government, the purpose of the Missions was two-fold: 1) The church used the Missions to convert Native Americans; 2) The Missions were a way for the Spanish to push northward. San José Mission was a thriving community with lush fields and pastures and a beautiful limestone church, built in 1768. Within the walls are a Grist Mill, a Granary, the Bastion, which gave protection against attack, and Living Quarters for the Native Americans who lived there.
We also noticed old foundations, which happened to be Workshop foundations.
The architecture was enough to take my breath away. The Rose Window is legendary and shows the detailed beauty of Spanish architecture.
The aged look of the limestone only adds to the beauty of this place. And the door that led inside was one of those doors you might see on Pinterest…. a grand entry!
While we were there, we had a chance to go inside, where a service was taking place and a Mariachi band played. It was honestly too beautiful for words.
Exploring places like this, I can’t help but wonder who has walked these same grounds, entered the door of this magnificent church, all the way back through history. It’s fascinating to think about!
Details for Your Visit to San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
Planning to visit San Antonio? The Visitor Center and Missions are open daily, except major holidays. I definitely recommend purchasing trolley tickets through City Tours; their tour guides narrated as we drove along, telling us all kinds of interesting things about the city, the areas we were in, even the vegetation that thrives in San Antonio neighborhoods. It was a wonderful experience, as we were able to get on and off where we pleased. Tickets were affordable for our family of four, as well, costing less than $60 altogether. There is no fee for the National Park. If planning to visit all of the San Antonio Missions, I would recommend planning an entire day around this, so you can fully explore and enjoy the sights.