Frederik Dawson (Netherlands):
Remember the Alamo and don’t forget other four missions is maybe the words that will be in every tourist magazines of the lovely city of San Antonio especially after June 2015 when finally the San Antonio Missions become the first World Heritage Site for Texas. During my 2 days visit in this nice city, apart from the famous scenic River Walk, I did manage to visit 2 missions after saw advertisement and articles about San Antonio Mission National Historic Park in almost every free magazine I read in the hotel. After consulted with hotel concierge and very tight schedule, I decided to take a taxi to visit Mission San Jose which reputably to be the largest and most beautiful of all missions.
The driver took me into the small street that looked like a road to someone house, and suddenly I found the large carpark area and a high wall church in partial ruined next to quite imposing stone gate. I walked around the church until I saw the very impressive front façade. The whole façade was adorned with elaborate baroque cravings statues and motif. The wooden door was also lovely to admire. Another impressive work of art was the Rose Window which located just behind the corner of the front facade, its lovely shape and motifs were quite something to see. After that I walked around the church that surrounded by large lawn and stone wall similar to small fort or military barrack. Then I took a bus Line 42 backed to downtown to see another mission, Mission Valero, which was better known as the Alamo. The atmosphere of San Jose and the Alamo were totally different, at the Alamo there were load of tourists, long queue (even has commemorative photo booth in front of the entrance!), and I felt like I was entering some kind of theme park. At first I was quite surprised to find that the place was really small, and looked very unauthentic with reconstruction of interior. Inside there was a display of Battle of Alamo, here I was again very surprised to learn that the Alamo was already in ruined with no roof at all even before the battle! I always misunderstood that the Alamo was destroyed by the conflict. After the main building, I entered into the souvenir hall; the Alamo was indeed very well planned to get tourists’ money. Then I walked around the garden and backed to the entrance where I stopped to admire some fine decoration at the façade. In the next early morning I decided to come back to the Alamo again for much peaceful moment and nicer photo opportunity.
After saw Mission San Jose, I was quite surprised to myself that the site was better than I original thought and to be listed in the World Heritage Site was agreeable, at least the façade of San Jose was far superior than many other Spanish churches that I saw during my visit in Texas and New Mexico, and that the area bigger than Italy and France. For the Alamo, the site was hard to explain since it has long been converted into some kind of national shrine of heroic battle for American, not the heritage Franciscan mission. I was not surprised to see some nationalists afraid of UNESCO as the Alamo was quite a unique site in their opinion. Anyway I was really happy to visit San Antonio, this city was one of friendliest big American cities I’ve ever been, a really good place to be in Texas whether with World Heritage Site or not.
Date posted: June 2015 Jorge Sanchez (Spain):
I was travelling hitchhiking around USA together with a girl from Montreal, Canada. We spent Christmas in New Orleans Bourbon Street, and the next day we left for San Antonio, in Texas, from where we planned to enter Mexico and board the train across the Barranca del Cobre, from Chihuahua to Los Mochis, and spend the New Year 1984 in some nice town in Mexico.
A truck picked up and dropped us in San Antonio, where we decided to spend a couple of days visiting its many tourists' attractions. After visiting El Alamo fortress, with a film, the five Franciscan Missions, and taking a lovely boat excursion along the River, we crossed the border with Mexico, in Laredo.
Date posted: April 2014
Have you been to San Antonio Franciscan Missions? Share your experiences!