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The Mission Trail
In addition to the Alamo, which was originally established as a mission, there are four other missions just south of downtown San Antonio that you can visit.
Driving down Alamo Street from downtown San Antonio Mission Concepcion is the first mission you will come across, we did not stop at that one.
The second mission is Mission San Jose, the "Queen of the Missions", the largest and best restored of the missions near San Antonio. The visitor center is here and there is a movie about the missions you can watch plus a 45 minute ranger led walking tour through the grounds.
The third mission is Mission San Juan Capistrano
The fourth mission is Mission Espada
An interesting day trip is to visit the five missions in San Antonio.
The missions were established to convert more lands to Christianity, spread Spanish influence further and establish a strong economic security. Each mission was built to be self-sufficient, and protective for its residents. Built like forts, these religious centered missions either failed or boomed. The missions were set just far enough apart, that men, tools or arms could be transported to the next mission within a days trip. Now, thanks to better transportation, the entire mission tour can be completed in a day.
Visitors can get a glimpse of mission life in the restored Mission San Jose. Of course, the most famous of missions, the Alamo, can be found in the heart of the city. Many of the missions' chapels are still in use to this day, so please be respectful when visiting.
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Going on the Mission Trail
The Alamo was one of five Spanish missions built in San Antonio and you can still visit the other four missions today. Starting at the Alamo, the Mission Trail goes on for 12 miles (you can pick up a map at the info center located in front of the Alamo). Although it takes you through some not-so-great neighborhoods, it's still worth driving to the four missions - my favorite ones are Concepcion and Espada. Admission is free and there are washrooms and picnic areas at all four missions (which are still in use today, by the way).
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