Sunday, October 7, 2012

California Missions ~ Chapter One

When I first came to California, I lived in San Diego, which is home to the first Spanish mission built in California, the beautiful Mission San Diego de Acala. I visited the mission several times and found a place of beauty and peace, with a strong sense of the old, of history. I became very interested in the missions and their place in the history of California. And, as the years went by, I visited all but one of the Southern California missions. (I must apologize here: the accents will be missing on Spanish words; I just don't know how to add them. Please leave a note, if you know how it's done.)

I would have loved to travel the coast road, El Camino Real, a 600-mile long trail, now a highway, where the missions are situated approximately 30 miles apart. When the missions were built, this represented a long one-day ride on horseback or three-day hike on foot. But I never drove to Northern California alone, with the missions in mind, so I've not seen them all. There are 21 California missions and one sub-mission. Back in the late 1700s, additional outposts were built along El Camino Real, to provide much needed rest stops for travelers. Legend has it that the padres sprinkled bright yellow mustard flowers along the trail to mark it. 

I have wanted to revisit the missions, at least in my mind, for a while now. So I thought why not write about them here --  it may also be interesting for those of you who've never been to California to learn a little about their history in words and  and pictures. They're some of the oldest buildings in the state and they all have stories to tell. I know it will be fun for me to revisit them, so over the next several weeks, maybe even up to Christmas, I want to dedicate my Sunday posts to the Spanish missions of California. I will use Wikipedia to fact check my own memories of their history, but I will, for the most part, use my own words. I'll also use Wikipedia photos to supplement my own. 

Next Sunday, I'll begin with the purpose and organization of the missions. Then we'll see how far I get each week. After the historical overview, I want to share my personal impressions of each of the ten southern missions, going from south to north. I'll begin with Mission San Diego de Acala, which is the southernmost mission and also the first one to be built in California. 

I know I will learn much from revisiting the history of these magnificent places. I hope you will come along on this adventure and enjoy it with me. 


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