San Antonio, TX is home to five missions that were established along the San Antonio River in the 18th century. Collectively they became the largest concentration of Catholic missions in North America and were built primarily to expand Spanish New World influence north from Mexico.
The missions flourished during the mid-18th century until disease, inadequate military support and issues with Apaches and Comanches led to their decline. The San José, San Juan, Concepción, and Espada missions were formed in east Texas and were relocated to San Antonio due to French incursions, drought, and malaria.
The Alamo was established in 1718 as a way station between missions in East Texas and Mexico. It is the most widely known of the San Antonio missions as it was home to the Battle of the Alamo which was fought March 6, 1836.
Mission San José was established in 1720 about five miles downstream from The Alamo. The mission was known as a major social and cultural center and provided the strongest garrison against raids from Indians.
Mission San Juan was establish in 1731 south of the Mission San José. It was known for being a supplier of agricultural products and iron, wood, cloth and leather goods that were produced by Indians.
Mission Concepción was also established in 1731 south of the San Juan. It was known for its religious celebrations and boasts a large church which still stands today.
Mission Espada was the third to be established in 1731 and is south of Mission Concepción. It was also known for religious celebrations and has a beautiful church with a stone entrance.
All five missions are designated UNESCO World Heritage sites. The Alamo is under control of the Texas General Land Office while the remaining four missions are part of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. All are open to the public to visit free of charge.