California Missions Facts

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To view the key facts for a given mission, please select the mission title from below. You may also find information on each mission by using the Key Facts by Mission menu to the left.

La Purísima Concepción

The Eleventh of the California Missions, founded December 8, 1787. La Purisima is a "living history" museum. Time your visit on a day when there are sepcial activities or an encampment scheduled. Check the mission website: htpp://

Nuestra Señora de la Soledad

Thirteenth of the California Missions, founded October 9, 1791. The grounds, which still contain the ruins of the mission's adobe walls, are a haunting reminder of how difficult life must have been at this remote and desolate mission.

San Antonio de Padua

Third of the California Missions, founded July 14, 1771. The extensive restoration and unspoiled setting of San Antonio de Padua makes this one of the most picturesque missions in California. It has an extensive museum with a number of exhibits displaying various aspects of daily life at the mission. The site also boasts the most complete, and largely unrestored, Mission-era water control system in California.

San Buenaventura

Ninth Mission, founded March 31, 1782. There is a well-landscaped garden with a fountain, stone grotto, and exterior displays on the east side of the church. The inviting mission museum (built in 1929) contains the original church doors and two original wooden bells, which were used during Holy Week when the metal bells were silent.

San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo

Second of the California Missions, founded June 3, 1770. One of the most popular attractions is the elaborate Serra Memorial Cenotaph (a monument not a tomb) sculpted in 1924 by Jo Mora. This is made of travertine marble and bronze and shows life-sized figures of Fr. Serra and three other pioneer missionaries, all of whom are buried under the church sanctuary.

San Diego de Alcalá

At the time the mission was restored in 1931 only the facade was still standing., founded July 16, 1769. A popular stop on the mission tour is a re-creation of Fr. Serra's cloister or living quarters.

San Fernando Rey de España

The Seventeeth of the California Missions, founded September 8, 1797. The Convento or Long Building, built in 1822, served as the padre's quarters and as a guest-house. A colonnade with nineteen arches borders the full length of the building, which measures 243' x 50'.

San Francisco de Asís

The Sixth of the California Missions, founded October 9, 1776. The cemetery (much reduced from its original size) is a well landscaped oasis in the middle of a busy city. The mass grave of the Mission Indians buried here is called the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine.

San Francisco Solano

TheTwenty-first and last of the California Missions, founded July 4, 1823. The wing that was the padre's quarters is now a museum. What was the dining room in this section of the mission now displays mission paintings done by Chris Jorgensen between 1903-1905. The Mexican-era soldiers barracks (just across from the mission) has been restored and now contain a small museum and a gift shop.

San Gabriel Arcángel

The Fourth of the California Missions, founded September 8, 1771.

San José

The Fourteenth of the California Missions, founded June 11, 1797.

San Juan Bautista

The 15th of the California Missions, founded June 24, 1797. San Juan Bautista offers the best opportunity to see and appreciate the California of 160 years ago. There are some 30 historic buildings in the 12-block area surrounding the Spanish Plaza (the only original one remaining in the state) including the Mission's original adobe manjerio (nunnery), since renamed Plaza Hall and the fomer cuartel (Soldier's barracks) retrofitted by Angelo Zanetta in 1858 as the Plaza Hotel.

San Juan Capistrano

The Seventh of the California Missions, founded November 1, 1776. San Juan Capistrano, with its beautifully landscaped grounds and with the ruins of the Great Stone Church and adjacent bell wall, is one of the most picturesque sites in California.

San Luis Obispo de Tolosa

5th of the California Missions, founded September 1, 1772. The mission has an excellent museum with a special room that focuses on the Chumash Indians. The adjacent plaza is a popular site for community events. A stream runs through the area.

San Luis Rey de Francía

The 18th of the California Missions, founded June 13, 1798. The sunken garden and lavanderia (laundry), located in a hollow to the south of the mission may be reached by descending 46 fire tiled steps. Two springs provided water that sprouted from the mouths of sculpted gargoyles into the lavanderia.

San Miguel Arcángel

16th of the California Missions, founded July 25, 1797. The worn adobe walls, ancient gateways, and simple adobe structures of the mission complex make this one of the most authentic looking missions in the chain.

San Rafael Arcángel

The Twentieth of the California Missions, founded December 14, 1817.

Santa Bárbara

The Tenth of the California Missions, founded December 4, 1786. The beautiful Moorish fountain located in front of the monastery wing, to the left of the church, was sculpted by mason and carpenter José Antonio Ramírez in 1808.

Santa Clara de Asís

Eighth of the California Missions, founded January 12, 1777. The well landscaped grounds of this mission, nestled in the middle of a large university, are quite appealing. A portion of the original adobe walls have been preserved.

Santa Cruz

Twelfth of the California Missions, founded August 28, 1791. A portion of the original nephyte housing area of 1822 has been restored and may be seen in the adjacent Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park.

Santa Inés Virgen y Martír

The Nineteeth of the California Missions, founded September 17, 1804. In 1820 a grist mill fed by Zanja de Cota Creek was constructed about a half mile from the church. The mill system consisted of two large stone reservoirs, a stone mill building wiht a water-propelled horizontal wheel and mill stone, and a network of zanjas or canals. A second (fulling) mill was added at the upper end of the large reservoir in 1821. The mill ruins are now owned by the California State Parks, with long-term plans to provide public access in a new State Park in Solvang.