On July 5, 2015, the World Heritage Committee inscribed San Antonio’s five Spanish colonial Missions on the World Heritage List. From 1718 to 1731, priests of the Franciscan Order established the San Antonio Missions. The Spanish government and the Catholic Church sent priests to Texas (then part of New Spain) to settle and protect territory claimed by the Spanish Crown. No permanent Spanish settlements existed in the area prior to the construction of the Missions. The priests were responsible for bringing the indigenous people of the region, nomadic hunter-gatherers known as Coahuiltecans, into the Missions to create viable Spanish communities.
The four southernmost Spanish colonial missions—Concepción, San José, San Juan and Espada —are included in the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, which officially opened in 1983. These four missions, along with the Alamo, have been named a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO). Land for the Historical Park was donated by the city, county, state, Catholic Church and San Antonio Conservation Society. The missions are walled compounds encompassing a church and buildings where the priests and local Native Americans lived and worked.
The park’s Visitor’s Center is in Mission San José, where you can view Gente de Razon, which tells the story of life in the missions during the 1700s. The film is shown every 30 minutes. Mission San José also has a museum and bookstore. All four mission churches still have active Catholic parishes that hold regular services. The churches are open to visitors during regular park hours, except in the case of a wedding or a funeral.
Now you can explore the Missions along the River Walk’s new Mission Reach. The Mission Reach is an eight mile stretch with recreational trails, picnic and seating areas, pedestrian bridges, pavilions and portals to four Spanish colonial missions.
Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo is a historic Catholic mission in San Antonio, Texas, United States. The mission was named in part for the Marquis de San Miguel de Aguayo, José de Azlor y Virto de Vera.
Franciscan friars established Mission Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de Acuña (also Mission Concepcion) in 1716 as Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de los Hainais in East Texas.
The first primitive capilla (chapel) was built out of brush and mud. Eventually a campanile, or “bell tower” containing two bells was incorporated into the structure, which was replaced by a long granary with a flat roof and an attractive belfry around 1756
Mission San Francisco de la Espada (also Mission Espada) is a Roman Rite Catholic mission established in 1690 by Spain in present-day San Antonio, Texas, in what was then known as northern New Spain