We were in our glory to finally be able to see The Alamo. The Mision San Antonio de Valero (1718)--later known as the Alamo-- was the first of five missions constructed in the early 1700's in an area first claimed by Spain. The mission was home to Spanish missionaries and their Native Indian converts for twenty years, then later used by a Spanish calvary unit in the early 1800's.
Today the Alamo comprises a little over four acres and is the top tourist attraction in Texas. Thousands flock here each year to see where a small number of Texian and Tejano's held out for thirteen days against an overwhelming force of Mexican soldiers led by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.
From what I've read, the Texas Revolution began when the government reneged on an agreement allowing settlers from outside this territory to occupy the land. Efforts were made to push them out and the settlers rebelled. Ben Milam in 1835 led Texian and Tejano volunteers against Mexican troops stationed in San Antonio. After searching the town and fighting house to house, General Martin Perfecto de Cos and his soldiers were forced to surrender.
This defeat could not be tolerated, so in 1836 Santa Anna surprised the patriots at the Alamo. Commander William Travis pleaded for help to the surrounding communities of Texas, but only 32 volunteers from Gonzales arrived--bringing the total force to less than 200.
The thirteen day siege ended in a massacre of the Texian and Tejano holdouts. Santa Anna eventually was defeated himself in April 1836.
There is no charge for admission. Hours are Mon.-Sat. 9am-5:30 pm; Sun. 10am-5:30 pm. Open daily except on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. A large gift shop has many souvenirs plus a postage machine for your postcards--you can mail your cards/letters and have them postmarked from the ALAMO.
It's such a little building to be carrying the weight of so much history. Millions come here every year to see the place that to many is the very embodiment of heroism and sacrifice in the name of freedom and liberty.
The old stone church and the few simple buildings that make up the national shrine that is The Alamo are surrounded nowadays by beautifully tended and peaceful gardens but that wasn't the way it was back in March 1836 when a small band of men held out there against the army of General Antonio López de Santa Anna during the war that was raging between the Texians and Mexico. After 13 days which saw the death of all those defending the fort (including the small church which saw much fierce fighting) , the Alamo finally fell on March 6. The battle was lost but a legend was born that day that saw the names of the men who fell pass into the list of national heroes and the rallying cry of Sam Houston as he led the Texan Army to ultimate victory become a rallying cry for a whole nation - Remember the Alamo!
300 years of history are present in the Alamo. First a Spanish Mission (San Antonio de Valero, founded in 1718), until ownership was handed over to the mission converts, the mission buildings became a military barracks in 1803 - initially in the hands of the Mexicans, and then being taken by the men of the Texan Army who were to defend it to the death in the Texas Revolution as they fought for independence from Mexico.
Two of the original buildings are still standing - the church (now called the Shrine) and the Long Barrack (originally the "Convento") - both house exhibits and items from the siege and Texan history. There are more historical exhibits in another, much newer building also, as well as markers and the Wall of History in the garden. Alamo Plaza itself approximates the area covered by the old mission and the fort.
In 1724 as Mission San Antonio de Valero (Alamo) was constructed to house missionaries and there Indian converts. These occupants purpose was to farm the fields and learned to maintained there own governing. Then in the 1800's the Spanish established small cavalry there who named it Alamo meaning cottonwood and is the first recorded hospital. The Alamo served as home to the Spanish, Rebels, and Mexican military over period of time. Then Feb 23, 1836 substantial events started happening that lead up to a 13 day battle of Texas Independence, and on March 6, 1836 became the finally assault of the Mexican army of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna soldiers that emerged on the mission of two hundred Texas volunteers who were desperately struggling for Texas independence. Yet, as sunrise fell that the battle was over losing all two hundred Texas Volunteers and including that of Jim Bowie and David Crockett to Santa Anna's assault. (Some dependence did survive)Although, the battle was lost but was the beginning of Texas Independence and the Alamo will be forever held as hallowed ground and a shrine to liberty.
As you walk towards the Alamo, you'll see a looming monument outside its doors. It was designed by architects Adams and Adams and executed by sculptor, Pompeo Coppini. It was commissioned by the Texas Centennial Commission and presented (1939) as a memorial to those men who lost their lives in the Battle of Alamo.
This sculpture is referred to as the Alamo Cenotaph and contains all the names of those who died. A cenotaph is erected to honor a person or persons whose remains are elsewhere or unknown.
The base of the monument is 12' x 40' and comprised of Texas pink granite, while the sculpture itself is of gray Georgian marble and rises 60 feet. The theme of the piece is "Spirit of Sacrifice" and depicts a figure rising from the grave. Beneath this figure, heroes of the Alamo and of Texas encircle the monument.
See picture #2 for a more detailed look of the Texas heroes.
Lets face it, 9 times out of 10, the main attraction that draws you to a town is going to be the Alamo when it comes to San Antonio. The Alamo is a famous former mission turned battle ground that is near and dear to many Texans. The reason it is so dear is that this was the true beginning to the war of Independence from Mexico, when Santa Ana’s troops numbering in the thousands were held in check by 189 brave Texans (some were from Tennessee, but anyone who lays down his life for Texas is a Texan in my book). The 189 brave souls were able to keep Santa Ana occupied while General Sam Houston rallied troops to defend Texas, who eventually defeated Santa Ana months later. The 189 sacrificed all, as not a man survived, which is why those men are heroes in Texas. The cry “Remember the Alamo” is still something near and dear to Texans. This place is so special to Texans, that accused artist Ozzy Ozborne was forbidden to hold a concert anywhere in Texas after he was caught urinating on the building. Also, despite his best attempts, Pee Wee Herman was never able to find his bicycle in the basement at the Alamo (since there is not a basement). Overall, this historical site is well worth the time spent, and there were surely be a lot learned.
The Alamo sits in the heart of San Antonio, and was already a hundred years old at the time of the siege and battle. It was founded in 1718 as a Spanish mission for the purpose of Christianizing the Indians indigenous to the area. The Indians themselves built the mission under the supervision of the Spanish priests and it was named Mission "San Antonio de Valero." The church was designed without the benefit of a master engineer, the roof collapsed almost immediately, and this portion of the mission was never actually completed. In 1821, Mexico won her independence from Spain and claimed all the land that Spain owned that included Texas. In 1824, Mexico created a democratic constitution based on the United States Constitution. Mexico opened Texas for colonization, offering land very cheaply to new settlers. Many people both Americans and Europeans, relocated to the area which offered the opportunity for a fresh start. In 1833, a Mexican general, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, was elected President of Mexico, but it wasn't long before he turned his presidency into a dictatorship. He began to collect high taxes and passed harsh and unreasonable laws, making the settlers very unhappy with their new home. By 1835 many colonists began to threaten revolt. Alarmed by these threats Santa Anna sent his brother-ln-law, General Martin de Cos, to reinforce the Alamo General Cos arrived in San Antonio, quartered himself and his troops in the Alamo, and converted the old mission into a fortress. He added some 21 cannons which he placed around the walls and began to prepare for a siege and battle. Declaring martial law, he jailed people for no reason and soon the threat of revolution became a reality. Almost two months after Cos' arrival.
You can't go to San Antonio and not see the Alamo - that would be like going to Paris and not see the Eiffel Tower. And I have to admit, in order to prepare for my trip to San Antonio, I rented the movie "The Alamo", which isn't a great movie, but at least I got the basics of what went on during the battle and it made my visit to the Alamo more interesting.
The Alamo started out as a mission, which explains its rather small smize, and it is located smack in the middle of downtown. The shrine and the gardens that surround it are beautiful, and the barracks contain a very informative display that will help you learn more about the battle. It's up to you whether you want to make it a long or short visit, but I would definitely recommend going - plus, admission is free!
pictured is a plaque on the burial site of the texans killed at the battle of the alamo. since there were so many killed they were cremated on this spot and their ashes buried. this historic spot is located on the south side of commerce street between alamo and bowie streets across from the rivercenter mall. of the millions of visitors to the alamo only a handful of people see this obscure site.
Regularly, a volunteer of the visitors bureau tells the story of the Battle. He glorifies the role of each protagonist and finishes with a note of glory. Very moving.
I did not shoot indoor pictures in the Alamo because it was prohibited and even I am an unruly Frenchman I did not dare to take one.
Nearby, in the RiverCenter, the Imax proposes a re-enactment film (45 min) for 8$. at 9AM, 11AM, 1PM, 3PM, 5PM, 7PM.
I have recorded the 2 films about Alamo : the one of John Wayne which is far from the truth and the more recent one (2004) which fits better with history .
Exiting the back of the Alamo, you can walk straight to the exhibit hall, or you can take a right and walk along the paths in the garden, which I recommend. They have a small stream with many fish in it, which used to be the water "facility" for the Alamo back in its day. The grounds are adorned with many beautiful flowers and fountains.
the alamo is the most famous and most visited site in san antonio. the alamo (san antonio de valero mission) was built by the spanish in 1744. the sanctuary and adjacent buildings served as a school for indians and for their conversion to christianity. the alamo was abandoned by the spanish in 1793 and it became a fortress. the alamo became world famous in 1836 as the site of the battle of the alamo between the republic of texas and mexico. admission is free.
I wasn't around when the Alamo opened for tours, so my coverage is a little short here. But, I would say that one needs no more than 30 minutes to get all the camera angles of the exterior building and grounds in the area, including the monument to the defenders. At the time of the defense, the Alamo looked different than it does today (or in the John Wayne movie). The defense wasn't just of the building, but also of the entire grounds. It was not an ideal place to defend. The walls are only about 8 feet high along the perimeter, and the corners provided poor angles for defensive fire. An open space in the wall had to be mounded with earth and spikes and was extremely difficult to defend. The 300 some defenders hoped to hold off the 10,000 or so Mexican army until the Texas freedom fighters arrived to save them. They held out for nearly a month, but the Mexican's must not have been too serious about taking the tiny mission turned fortress. Sam Houston, leader of the Texas army for independence, recognized that even his army had no immediate hope of success on the battlefield against the Mexican army, and he apparently wasn't overly eager to commit troops at the time.
On the east side of Alamo Plaza is the most famous spot in Texas where 189 defenders fell on March 6, 1836, after repeated attacks by Mexican General Santa Anna’s army. Mission San Antonio de Valero (The Alamo) was established in 1718 as the city’s first mission. The chapel, one of the most photographed facades in the nation, and the Long Barracks are all that remain of the original fort. Long Barracks Museum and Library are near the chapel. The museum contains relics and mementos from the Republic of Texas and offers narration on the fall of the Alamo. The Alamo is located in the heart of the city, inside beautifully landscaped grounds.
Hours: 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Monday-Saturday; 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Sunday. Closed December 24 and 25. Restricted hours March 6.General admission: donations accepted.
We took such a tour with those red colored trolley cabins. If you take such a tour through and out of San Antonio, and you would get TJ as your driver/tour guide, then a most interesting tour is promised anyway.
The Historic Tour encludes:
Founded in 1718, where 189 Texians and Tejanos fought against Santa Anna's army in the battle that inspired the cry Remember the Alamo.
Imax Theatre, Rivercenter Mall, Riverboat Rides
Relive the Battle of the Alamo on the IMAX Theatre's six-story screen in "Alamo...the Price of Freedom." Also showing other IMAX features including 3D. Shop in Rivercenter Mall's 130 stores and restaurants then catch a Riverboat ride in the lagoon.
Institute of Texan Cultures
Where you will find interactive displays of 27 ethnic and cultural groups that settled the state and a multimedia presentation in the Dome Theater. Hemisfair Park - Site of the 1968 world's fair and home to the 622 ft. Tower of the Americas.
Mission San José
At the Visitor Center see how the missions formed the foundation of the city and learn about South Texas' unique history and colorful culture. Learn how life was inside the mission walls.
Original frescos are still visible within the rooms of the mission. This is the oldest unrestored stone church in our nation today.
A taste of old Mexico. Arts, crafts and food in a unique market setting with over 50 specialty shops.
San Fernando Cathedral
Founded in 1738, this is among the oldest Catholic parish churches in the southwest. Main Plaza - the heart of San Antonio dating from 1772. Plaza De Armas - the original site of the Spanish Presidio and home of the Spanish Governor when Texas was under Spanish rule.
San Antonio's oldest surviving neighborhood dating from the 1750's is now alive with artists and craftsmen, shops and restaurants.
The Alamo is a definite must see. So is the Riverwalk, Ripleys believe it or not, Hard Rock Cafe, and so many other interesting places.
The Alamo, and the Riverwalk are unique to San Antonio, and you won't see them anywhere else. They are full of interesting things to do. Learn about the facsinating history, take a ride on the boats, try many different types of food, or just stroll along the river, and enjoy the serene beauty of the place. And an atmosphere you won't find anywhere else.