Founded by Father Junipero Serra in 1769 at a site near the mouth of the San Diego River, this was the first California mission. Also known as the San Diego Mission and the “Mother of the Missions,” the San Diego de Alcala mission was relocated here--6 miles from its original site--in 1774 and has been rebuilt several times, making the current church the fifth on this site. It is now a peaceful island amid a busy shopping area. The mission church was named a minor basilica (a church of very important historical significance) by the Pope in 1976, and is one of only four of the California missions that are basilicas. Two striking features are its impressive bell tower featuring one original bell and the restored church featuring textured plastering typical of Indian craftsmanship. The well-maintained old gardens are also noteworthy.
You can rent a taped tour, which kids 7 and older particularly enjoy. An annual Festival of the Bells that celebrates the mission’s founding takes place each July and includes a carnival and a blessing of both the bells and animals.
|front exterior of San Diego de Alcala mission in San Diego, California
|display of all the California missions in the museum at San Diego de Alcala mission in San Diego, California
|bell tower at San Diego de Alcala mission in San Diego, California
|interior garden at San Diego de Alcala mission in San Diego, California
Article about all 21 California missions.
More things to do in San Diego.
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Things to do in nearby La Jolla.
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images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers