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California Missions

April 2007: Visits to a variety of California Missions

Capistrano Arches
In the 1700s, the Spanish built a series of missions up the coast of California, to spread their religion, and more importantly, their culture and empire. The missions were all built along a road called El Camino Real - each a days travel from the last. This hall is at Mission San Juan Capistrano.
Capistrano Courtyard
Generally, each mission consisted of a courtyard surrounded by various rooms for priests and soldiers, along with a church of course, and a small adjacent cemetery. This is the courtyard at Mission San Juan Capistrano.
Ghosts of the Old Country
Other buildings and structures were added as needed. This short hallway at Mission San Juan Capistrano is reminiscent of something from Spain.
Prayer Candles
This is the current church at Mission San Juan Capistrano.
Floral Garden
The original church as Mission San Juan Capistrano was destroyed by an earthquake - though, the walls still stand. By the late 1800s, the Spanish were long gone, and the missions were mostly crumbling. They were given back to the Catholic church, which still runs them.
Mission San Diego Grounds
Mission San Diego was the first mission in California. In the early days, the mission was ransacked by local Indians. It was later moved a few miles from the original location. Today, this is a much smaller and lower-key mission than San Juan Capistrano.
White Walls of San Luis Rey
Mission San Luis Rey is large mission, and is an active church today. There are some historical displays inside as well.
The Pepper Tree
Mission San Luis Rey also boasts California's oldest pepper tree, seen here in the distance. However, the area around it is closed from the public.
De Pala Bells
A couple smaller missions were located on branches of El Camino Real. This one, Mission San Antonio De Pala, is located about 20 miles west of Mission San Luis Rey. One interesting story is that there's a small cactus growing on top of the bell tower. Apparently, it was planted there by a priest to symbolize how God's love could tame the desert... or something like that.
Inside the Church at De Pala
The church at Mission San Antonio De Pala has a very rustic atmosphere.This is a freeze-frame of water cascading down a small waterfall on Cold Spring Creek.

Where is it?

The California Missions are located along the southern and central California coast - though some are a way inland.

Before you go...
Different missions have, well, different missions - some are more tourist oriented than others (San Juan Capistrano probably being the most tourist-oriented in southern California).

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