Quite a few years ago, we were lucky enough, to live in one of the most beautiful places in the US. Close to San Diego, California. When we got there the first time, we were just amazed about the character of the towns and, of course, San Diego itself. The mix between urban development, old towns with spanish character, desert and the pacific ocean made an awesome experience. Go shopping in town in the morning, take a hike in the desert in the afternoon and go enjoy the beach – all in one day. Without much driving involved.
While we lived there, we met many great people and still have good friends there. We moved away in 2012 – something I have partly regretted – but we took great memories with us. One of those memories are the Missions of California that we all tried to visit.
There’re in total 21 missions that were built between 1769 and 1823 along the then created, El Camino Real. Bear in mind, that the road goes from San Diego all the way to north of San Francisco. So visiting all of them is not something you do on a Sunday afternoon. Due to the materials used to built the missions, adobe brick and other materials available at the time, many of the original buildings are gone and have been replaced by replicas that look as close to the original as possible. Some parts of the structures are however still standing. Also, some of the missions are not open to the public due to the desolate state they’re in.
In total we visited 19 of the 21 missions over the course of 7 years. The last 2 actually just recently during a tour through the northwest USA that started in San Jose, CA. (see also my other blogs about that tour 🙂 ).
There’re great resources available on the web to get more background information and to plan your visits. Wether or not you like visiting old churches or not, don’t miss to visit at least 2 of the missions in southern California. To me they’re the most beautiful places there and their graveyards have such a beautiful and old atmosphere, that you should’t miss. The 2 Missions are the one in San Diego, Basilica San Diego de Alcala and the one in San Juan de Capistrano with the same name.
There are some more in the area, but I personally liked those the most. Here is a map of all missions in California.
The following photos only give a glimpse of the feel and beauty of the places. For more photos, please go to my smugmug account at SmugMug-Missions.
Hope you enjoyed and have a chance to visit these places sometime.