San Diego de Alcala, the first mission in California, is considered the birthplace of Christianity in the far West. The mission was founded on July 16, 1769, by Father Junipero Serra, after King Carlos III of Spain ordered expeditions from New Spain (Mexico). The king had discovered Russians were hunting seals off the coast of California and wanted to establish settlements.
The mission was originally on a site overlooking San Diego Bay, but was moved to the current location five years later because of inadequate water and poor soil.
The church is modest and rather narrow inside.
I like the detail around the font
and in the ceiling. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this color combination in a church before.
The garden next to the church has a statue of Junipero Serra,
and a striking bird of paradise. . . .
On the other side of the church, a courtyard with a lovely fountain
and potted succulents.
There’s a small chapel behind the church,
and a museum with this sketch from long ago. . . .
On the way out, you’ll pass an archeological dig
and this verandah.
El Camino Real, aka the King’s Highway or Royal Road, begins in San Diego and ends 600 miles later at Mission San Francisco Solano in Sonoma. The twenty-one missions were built to be one day’s walk apart. I have seen only three so far.
One of the bells is original, dated 1802. There are bells similar to the ones below along parts of El Camino Real:
In 1976, the mission was designated as a Minor Basilica by Pope Paul VI. Mission San Diego is still an operating parish, although Mass is conducted in a newer church.
The day we were there, the skies were insanely blue. A great contrast to the stark white mission walls. How funny is it to see snow falling on these photos? 🙂
Have a great weekend, everyone.
What a lovely sight seeing tour, Carole. Thanks so much for sharing it.
You’re so welcome. 🙂
What a beautiful church. Excellent pics:)
I really appreciate the kind comments. . .thank you.
I’ve been to San Diego but it was a rushed business trip with a day of fun tacked on at the start. Oh how much I missed! Thanks for expanding my impressions of beautiful San Diego.
You’re so welcome, Cheryl. Next time you’re here, I’ll show you around. 🙂
Oh! What a fabulous invitation … once the lake house is finished (May 2013 hopefully), and we’re moved in … I just may take you up on that, Carole!
I loved seeing this tour! I’ve been to San Luis Obispo and there are many architectural similarities to this one. Alas, the butterflies were not in residence when I visited. Do you know if all 21 original missions are still standing?
Thanks, Jackie! As far as I know, they are all standing. The mission at San Juan Capistrano was crumbling a bit a few years back, but it is really beautiful. I’m hoping to get back up there eventually.
I think I’ve been there! Must have been over 20 years ago, maybe 30. Lovely shots and thanks for the stroll down memory lane
When we first moved to San Diego years ago, we thought the Presidio was the mission. We never made it to San Diego de Alcala until this year.