One of the best California Missions I’ve gone too so far is the Mission San Juan Bautista. The full name is The Mission of the Glorious Precursor of Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Saint John the Baptist. What makes this a good place to visit is that in addition to the Old Mission, much of the town of San Juan Bautista retains it 19th Century charm with historical museums and cute shops. It makes for a complete visit.
Key Facts from WikiPedia and the Mission Website:
- The mission was the fifteenth of the Spanish missions established in present-day California.
- Barracks for the soldiers, a nunnery, the Jose Castro House, and other buildings were constructed around a large grassy plaza in front of the church and can be seen today in their original form.
- Mission San Juan Bautista has served mass daily since 1797, and today functions as a parish church of the Diocese of Monterey.
- Following its creation in 1797, San Juan’s population grew quickly. By 1803, there were 1,036 Native Americans living at the mission. Ranching and farming activity had moved apace, with 1,036 cattle, 4,600 sheep, 22 swine, 540 horses and 8 mules counted that year. At the same time, the harvest of wheat, barley and corn was estimated at 2,018 fanegas, each of about 220 pounds.
- Father Pedro Estévan Tápis arrived at Mission San Juan Bautista in 1815 to teach singing to the Indians. He employed a system of notation developed in Spain that uses varied colors or textures for polyphonic music. His choir of Native American boys performed for many visitors, earning the San Juan Bautista Mission the nickname “the Mission of Music.” Two of his handwritten choir books are preserved at the San Juan Bautista Museum.
- The town of San Juan Bautista, which grew up around the mission, expanded rapidly during the California Gold Rush and continues to be a thriving community today.
- Although secularized in 1835, the church was reconsecrated by the Roman Catholic Church in 1859, and continues to serve as a parish of the Diocese of Monterey. The mission includes a cemetery, with the remains of over 4,000 Native American converts and Europeans buried there.
- The mission and its grounds were featured prominently in the 1958 Alfred Hitchcock film Vertigo.
Here is my set of Mission San Juan Bautista photos