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Discover enchanting Mission San Diego de Alcala

Photo: Bell tower of the Mission San Diego de Alcala


Do you like historical attractions? Would it interest you to learn more about modern-day California's roots? And do you enjoy strolling through lovely, tranquil gardens while admiring attractive Spanish style buildings? If these activities sound interesting to you, then you'd most certainly enjoy a visit to Mission San Diego de Alcala and Presidio Park, both of which are located in San Diego, California.

In the photo to your left, you're looking at the beautiful bell tower of the Mission San Diego de Alcala, as seen from one of the mission's flower-filled courtyard gardens. In this photo, you'll be able to spot one of the mission's most historic artifacts...read on to find out what it is!












Lovely Mission San Diego de Alcala

Photo: One of the beautiful gardens of the Mission San Diego de Alcala If you're interested in historical sites, a visit to the San Diego Mission, one of the most historic places in all of California, should be right up your alley. You may already be familiar with the fact that Spanish missionaries extablished a chain of mission buildings along the California coast. You may not realize, however, that Mission San Diego de Alcala was the very FIRST of those missions to be established...or that Mission San Diego de Alcala served as the base from which the very gung-ho, never-to-be-swayed-from-his-task Father Junipero Serra worked and made his plans.

The current building is not the original mission, which was established in 1769. What you'll be touring is a combination of a renovation of the 1813 mission buildings, combined with relatively new buildings (constructed in 1931) that were built to LOOK like that same 1813 structure.

You'll be able to see two different church sanctuaries. The larger one, called the Mission Church, is home to regularly-scheduled Catholic services--- because Mission San Diego de Alcala, after all these years, remains an active Catholic Parish! (In fact, on the day I toured the Mission, I had to wait until a funeral service was over before I could tour the sanctuary area.)

The smaller sanctuary, La Capilla (ka-PEE-ya), remains in use as well. Both sanctuaries feature lovely altar areas. Both are open to self-touring when religious services are not in progress.





Photo of Father Serra's room at Mission San Diego de Alcala Now...back to the "secret" of the Bell Tower, which we talked about earlier on this page. The mission's beautiful bell tower is probably the first thing that you'll notice about the building as you arrive. It still has one of its original bells from the earliest days of the mission. In the photo above, look for the large bell with a "crown" on it. (In this photo, the two largest bells are at the bottom of the bell tower; the bell on the right has the little crown. Can you make it out in the photo?)

Bells were important to mission life back before timepieces were readily available. The ringing of the bells called the mission's occupants to church services, work, and meals.

In the photo to your right, you can see a very special room of the Mission San Diego de Alcala---Father Serra's quarters. Father Serra was the religious leader of the expedition whose goal was to establish a chain of missions in California. (This humble room was amazing to be in, just knowing the importance it held to California's history.) Eventually, there came to be 21 missions, each established at approximately one day's journey from the one before it.





Photo: Statuary adorns the mission gardens at Mission San Diego de Alcala Today, Mission San Diego also features lovely gardens planted with Western flora and featuring religious statues. Your self-guided tour begins and ends in the gift shop of Mission San Diego de Alcala, which helps raise money for the continued care of the Mission buildings. Admission is $3/adults and $1/children. No food or drink is sold or permitted at the Mission.

If you're interested in learning more about Mission San Diego de Alcala, check the "practical information" section at the bottom of this page for the mission's address, phone number, a map to the mission, along with directions on how to get there.

If you enjoy your visit to Mission San Diego de Alcala, don't forget that there are other lovely Spanish missions to visit in California. The Spanish missions were built to be spaced approximately one day's journey apart between San Diego and San Francisco. (Of course, we're talking "one day's journey by HORSEBACK, not by car!)

Today, you'll be less than one hour away from the next mission to the north...which is Mission San Luis Rey in northern San Diego County. From there, you'll once again have less than an hour's drive on to the next beautiful mission, the famous Mission San Juan Capistrano...to which the swallows "return" every spring. Mission San Juan Capistrano is the only Spanish mission in Orange County...but Los Angeles county has two; Mission San Gabriel and Mission San Fernando. Each mission is built in a similar Spanish style...and yet each one is different, as well. If you enjoy historical sites, I would heartily recommend that you visit each of the missions to experience the different qualities that each one has to offer.








San Diego's Presidio Park, Original home of Mission San Diego de Alcala

Photo: Beautiful museum building at Presidio Park in San Diego As you travel along either Interstate 5 or Interstate 8, you'll be able to spot a beautiful, Spanish-style building from the freeway. Standing high on a hill at the intersection of I-5 and I-8, and surrounded by tall, green trees, you're sure to wonder to yourself, "What is this lovely structure?"

The attractive building that you'll be seeing is actually a museum, the Junipero Serra Museum, named after the Spanish Franciscan friar who led the religious portion of the expedition to California that resulted in the founding of 21 Catholic missions.

Presidio Hill was the site of the original 1769 Mission San Diego, which soon moved to its own site further inland...the site where Mission San Diego de Alcala still stands today. Presidio Hill was also the home of the San Diego Presidio (fort.)

Though neither one of these original buildings still exist on Presidio Hill, Presidio Park was founded to preserve the site for future generations, and to preserve the archeological evidence which the occupants of these buildings left behind. Excavations at the park are continuously on-going so that remnants of the past May be discovered.

Inside the beautiful Junipero Serra Museum you can see the artifacts which have been un-earthed so far on this site. You'll see house wares and other artifacts relating to both the Presidio's occupants...plus other artifacts left on this site during various periods of San Diego's history: Native American, Spanish, independent Mexico, and finally, American. And, of course, you'll learn more about the founder of the California Mission chain, Father Serra, as well.

The museum's cost is $5/adults and $2/children. (The park's grounds, however, are free.)



Photo of Presidio Park's lush greenery.  San Diego, California Presidio Park is easy to find. Not only is it adjacent to Interstate 5 (with its exit clearly marked), but also its imposing Spanish-style main building can be clearly seen from the Interstate (and used as a visual guide.) Despite being frequently seen by passersby, Presidio Park remains one of those sights that many people never get around to exploring. Why not? Well, perhaps because the park isn't "exciting." Its main feature is lots and lots of greenery, but no playgrounds or sports fields. Here, you can picnic, stroll along the park's trails, and just "feel the tranquility." Nevertheless, if you're at all interested in historical spots or lovely gardens, I would definitely recommend a visit here.

(And if you're interested in historical sights, the large, outdoor San Diego Historical Museum is only a few blocks away. The San Diego Historical Museum is a "must see" for history buffs. Many original old San Diego buildings are situated there around a huge grassy central plaza. Kids can run and play while adults delve into San Diego's past. Shoppers will enjoy the San Diego Historical Museum, as well...because many of the historical buildings double as shops selling all sorts of interesting wares.)



Photo of a beautiful corridor at the Junipero Serra Museum in San Diego's Presidio Park Presidio Park itself is quite large...so if you come to picnic or stroll, you may wish to drive along the park's loop-shaped road first (so you can preview the entire park and decide which part you'd best like to explore.) Several parts of the park have formal names. There's Inspiration Point at the hill's summit, where you can get an outstanding view of Mission Valley and Mission Bay below. Back down the hill, there's Palm Canyon, an area that has lush landscaping, with plenty of palms, as the name suggests. Palm Canyon is adjacent to the Eucalyptus Grove, which features many fragrant eucalyptus trees.

The Padre Cross is an area featuring a cross built in 1913 and made out of floor tile pieces from the original Presidio. In this area, you'll find trails and other statuary. The Arbor, of course, is an attractive structure around which flowering plants twine, and it's a beautiful spot for taking photos. But then, ALL of Presidio Park seems to be "just meant" for taking beautiful photos!





Mission San Diego de Alcala -- Address, Map and Directions

Photo of beautiful Spanish-style architecture at San Diego's Presidio Park The Mission San Diego de Alcala address is---
10818 San Diego Mission Road
San Diego, CA 92108

Mission San Diego's phone number---
(619) 283-7319

Directions to Mission San Diego de Alcala---
From Interstate 8, take the Mission Gorge Road exit.
From Interstate 15, take the Friar's Road exit.
Note: You can't get to Mission San Diego from I-5; from Interstate 5, take I-8 eastbound to reach the Mission.

To get a better mental picture of where you'll be headed, take a look at the following road map of the area around the San Diego mission. Use the following link to see a road map of Mission San Diego de Alcala, nestled in the intersection of I-15 and I-8.

You may enjoy further about Mission San Diego. Click on the following link to view the Mission San Diego de Alcala official website.

Would you like to learn more about the OTHER Spanish missions of California that you can visit? There are many different websites that cover the 21 California missions, so doing a web search will give you lots of info if you don't like the site I'm going to recommend. But, since I only have a small amount of room here, I had to pick just one site to show you about the Spanish Missions. The graphics on the following site are rather dull, but the reason I like the site is that you'll get a good page of information about each of the California Missions at this site, plus a little photo of each one. It's a good site for starting your travel plans, at least. Use the following link to see a website that gives details about all of California's Spanish missions.

Would you like to visit the lovely Presidio Park? It site in a corner pocket of the I-5/I-8 intersection. The address of the Junipero Serra Museum at Presidio Park is 2727 Presidio Drive, San Diego, CA. The phone number is (619) 297-3258. For your convenience, you may use the following link to see a road map of the Presidio Park area of San Diego, California.

If you'd like to read more information about Presidio Park and the Junipero Serra Museum (including its hours of operation and current prices), you may use the following link to the Serra Museum page of the www.SanDiegoHistory.org website.







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