San Antonio was first explored in 1691 and during the course of its 325 year history the area has been part of Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, and finally the United States. With such a long and sometimes brutal history, it is no wonder that San Antonio has a wealth of fascinating historical attractions open to the public.
One of the most famous historical locations in the United States, the Alamo was built by Spanish missionaries in 1744 and remained a Catholic Mission until 1793. On March 6th 1836 – four days after the Republic of Texas declared its independence from Mexico – the legendry Battle of the Alamo took place. Among the iconic Texas (and American) figures killed defending the Alamo were William Travis, Davey Crockett, and Jim Bowie. The words “Remember the Alamo” would become an American battle cry for generations to come.
Today, the Alamo is one of the most popular historical attractions in the United States, and attracts over four million visitors a year. Visitors can tour the battlefield, the original chapel, as well as a museum filled with artifacts from the Texas Revolution. The Alamo is open seven days a week year-round, and only closes on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
While the Alamo is the most famous of San Antonio’s missions, there are several other historic missions which make up the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. The four missions making up this National Park – which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015 – are Mission Concepcion, Mission San Juan, Mission San Jose, and Mission Espanda. Mission Concepcion is considered by many to be the most beautiful of the original Spanish missions, and has been restored to how it looked when it was first completed in 1731, while the original church at Mission San Jose – constructed using limestone in 1763 – is still standing. The park is open seven days a week with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years days.
Other Historical Attractions
Named “the most beautiful building in San Antonio” by the National Geographic Society, the Spanish Governor’s Palace is a National Historical Landmark. Completed in 1749, this site provides a unique insight into Spanish Colonial times and architecture. Casa Navarro is a Texas State Historic Site, and was the home of Jose Antonio Navarro – a prominent 19th century Texas statesman and rancher. Constructed around 1848, the three structures on the site – built of limestone and adobe – have been fully restored and contain antiques, personal papers, and artifacts from the mid-19th century. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Little Flower is considered by many to be the most beautiful church in San Antonio. Built in 1931, the Basilica is the home of many significant religious relics and works of art. Foodies will surely want to visit the Guenther House, located in the historic King William district of San Antonio. Built by Carl Guenther – founder of Pioneer Flour Mills – in 1860, this historic structure contains a museum of artifacts related to dining, milling, and baking in San Antonio, as well as an excellent restaurant built in the Art Nouveau style of the 1920s. It is open to the public seven days a week.
San Antonio’s rich, vibrant history provides a wealth of historical attractions sure to be of interest to hard-core and casual history buffs alike. The only problem you may have is deciding where you want to start.