Sarah’s Travels

Mission San Diego de Alcala (Part 1): The Church inside and outside
By:Sarah in California
Date: 3 April 2013

Perched on a hill, the Mission is a nice visual surprise in a modern city like San Diego, simply pretty and inviting:

Interesting historical details of the construction of the church from the information panel below: "The church is long and narrow because the width of the building was determined by the height of the trees available for beams. Windows were built high for protection and to prevent the walls from collapsing under the weight of the adobe. Specially treated rawhide was used to cover the window openings instead of glass."

The Facade

It is obvious from the information panel below that life was not easy and that there is an awesome lot of determination behind those walls:"The Façade: As the result of the Indian attack of 1775, Padre Serra returned during the summer of 1776 to initiate the reconstruction of Mission San Diego. The church and buildings were rebuilt and the Mission flourished for a number of years. Earthquakes of the early 1800's destroyed most of the adobe buildings and church. The structures were rebuilt and buttress wings were added in 1812 to strengthen the façade of the church. By the early 1920's, portions of the walls adjoining the buttresses, the campanario and the baptistry were the only walls that remained standing."

The Beautiful Campanario

From the information panel below: "The campanario is 46 feet high and holds the Mission bells. The crown-topped bell on the lower right is named Ave Maria Purisima - Immaculate Mary. It weighs 805 pounds and was cast in 1802. A crown-topped bell was usually supplied by the Spanish King and cast in the royal foundry in Barcelona at the King's expense or made in a country ruled by Spain. The bell on the lower left is called Mater Dolorosa - Our Lady of Sorrows. It weighs 1,200 pounds and was recast by the Standard Iron Works of San Diego in 1895 from bell fragments found in the vicinity of the Mission."

Spanish explorations

Historical perspective to the establishment of the Mission from the information panel below:

"Spanish Explorations: 1542 - Juan Rodrigues Cabrillo, a Portuguese navigator, sailing under the flag of Spain arrived in the harbor and named the area San Miguel in observance of the Feast Day of Saint Michael the Archangel.

"1602 - Sebastian Viscaino sailing aboard the flagship San Diego, dropped anchor and named the area San Diego after Saint Didacus of Alcala, Spain.

"1768 - Fearing Russian encroachment, King Carlos III of Spain instructed Viceroy Jose de Galvez of New Spain to establish settlements along the coast of Alta California to claim the land for Spain. Since Galvez wanted it to appear that the motives for his plan were religious and not political, he chose the Franciscan order of Catholic priests led by Padre Junipero Serra to accompany the military and to be responsible for converting the native population to Christianity.

"1769 - […] on a site overlooking the bay, Mission San Diego de Alcala was founded as the first mission in Alta California. The mission was moved to the present site in 1774 to be closer to the American Indian population, a better source of water and more fertile soil."

Inside the church, the feeling is humility and devotion. The candles at the entrance:

View towards the front:


View towards the back: