San Juan de Capistrano Mission, San Antonio
Mission San Jose y San Miguel De Aguayo (known as Mission San Jose) was founded 1720, just two years after the first mission to be built by the San Antonio River and only five miles downstream. The building of the beautiful church was begun in 1768 and completed some 14 years later in 1782. The work and care lavished on the building can still be seen in the wonderfully carved main portal with its sculptures of the Virgin, her mother Saint Anne and and San Joaquin (Joseph, her husband) and the famed "Rose Window" of the Sacristy.
The biggest, and the most completely restored of all the Mission churches, San Jose's mission compound has also been restored, complete with Indian dwellings and the granary and workshops. Outside the north wall, the Mission's flour mill, the first mill in Texas was built in 1790. Today, visitors can see how the mill used the water power of the acequia to drive the machinery.
The granary houses a model of the Mission as it would have looked in its heyday of the late 1700s.
The main Visitors' Centre and a bookshop are also located here.
As is the case with all the Mission churches, San Jose is an active Parish church, so please respect this and be prepared to find the church in use when you visit.
The smallest and simplest of all San Antonio's Mission churches, San Juan de Capistrano is the third in the chain moving south of the city. Originally sited in eastern Texas, Mission San Juan was transferred in to its present position in1731 and by 1756 the church, housing for the friars and a granary were already in place. As was usual at the missions, the Indian inhabitants worked at producing the fruit and vegetables needed to sustain the Mission, the settlers who were moving into the region and the troops garrisoned there. Irrigation enabled the production of more crops in the fields outside the mission compound and, some 20 miles further afield, the mission maintained a ranch where both sheep and cattle were raised. As well as all this agricultural activity, workshops at the mission produced iron tools, wove cloth, and tanned hides. The mission was a self-sufficient and viable concern for many years, even developing a successful trading network for their surpus production but a later decline in the population saw plans for a larger church abandoned - the unfinished building can still be seen.
The Mission made good use of the waters of the San Antonio River. The San Juan Acequia, which is still functioning and was recently restored, holds the oldest water rights in the state.
Today, the church is still used as a parish church (as are all the Mission churches here in San Antonio) whilst the restored convento building is used for visitor facilities. With its open campanile, simply decorated interior and unrestored exterior, San Juan has the quietest and most isolated feel of all the missions.