Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Mission at San Juan Capistrano California

Our visit to Southern California included a tour of the Mission at San Juan Capistrano. The Mission was founded in 1776.

To accommodate the growing population a large stone church was built at the site. Sadly the church was destroyed in an earthquake in December of 1812 but the bells from the church survived and were placed in a wall nearby. The Mission bells are still rung on special occasions. 

The tour of the grounds can be accompanied by an audio guide called Voices of the Mission. Each person on the tour is given a small audio device and instructed which selection to listen to as you walk through the grounds.


 The Mission raised cattle and produced crops. The cattle were processed for meat, hides and tallow. The processing took place right on the mission grounds.

Example of a processed hide bearing the San Juan Capistrano brand
Each Mission had its own cattle brand

Tallow rendering pot (note the interesting design on the door)
Besides the crops and cattle the Spanish missionaries also planted olive groves. The olives were harvested and some of them were processed into oil.

Olive Millstone

The Mission grounds are lovely and the audio tour was interesting and informative. Anyone who is interested in the history of the Missions or California history in general won't be disappointed. Of course the Mission at San Juan Capistrano is most known for the swallows that return to it each spring. Around March 19th (St. Joseph's Day) the swallows return from their winter homes 2000 miles away. While the event has diminished a bit over time the swallows still return each year.

If your plans include a visit to the area I would highly recommend that you check out the Mission and the surrounding community. Also pay a visit to Los Rios Historic District, the oldest neighborhood in California.

We only just scratched the surface of the area that we visited in California. We had a great time and hopefully will be able to return.

Happy travels!

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