Mission San Luis Rey de Francia
The second mission northwards, San Luis Rey de Francia
, sits at the side of the wide San Luis Rey river valley four miles east of Oceanside
, in a rural area of cultivated fields and small villages. The buildings are quite imposing, centred around a large church made in the traditional Spanish colonial style with a gleaming white appearance as if recently repainted. To one side lies a large enclosed quadrangle lined with colonnades and containing a lawn and gardens including, of incidental interest, the oldest pepper tree in California. A cemetery dating from 1780 occupies ground at the other side while the land in front of the church has ruins of other historic structures principally barracks, kilns and an aqueduct. The frontage is bordered by examples of Californian desert plants including several huge yucca while in front is an large parking area with extensive lawns, a good place for a picnic.
Mission San Gabriel Arcángel
Fourth of the California missions is San Gabriel Arcángel
, founded in 1771 and moved to its current location in 1776 because of flooding; once in the middle of the countryside, the site is now surrounded by the northern Los Angeles suburbs of San Gabriel, near Alhambra, Rosemead and South Pasadena. The old highway past the church (Mission Road
, originally El Camino Real) now cuts diagonally across the regular San Gabriel street grid, through a bustling, densely populated neighborhood home to a high percentage of Chinese Americans. The mission sits beside the road next to a large parking area, and has an aged but solid appearance, with tall buttresses, small windows thick set walls - functional rather than ornate, though embellished by a handsome six-bell wall (campanario). The church is part of a group of buildings that also includes a refuge, school, museum, cafe with cactus garden and a new Catholic church, next to which is the historic Mission Cemetery
, containing around 6,000 graves. All the complex is peaceful and evocative, despite the busy main road nearby, and the modern surroundings.
The remaining 17 missions are found at intervals of 40 miles or so northwards, mostly well inland but a few are almost beside the coast. San Fernando Rey de Espana
(founded 1797) has a rather incongruous setting in the middle of the I-405/I-5/118 triangle in Mission Hills, north Los Angeles, and is largely reconstructed, following damage that occurred at various stages including an earthquake in 1812. On the west edge of Ventura, Mission San Buenaventura
occupies quite a small site, in which the only original elements are the church and a garden. Mission Santa Barbara
is located 30 miles further northwest along US 101, in the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains overlooking the city of Santa Barbara; highlight is the ornate brick-built chapel, surrounded by the usual gardens, colonnades and outbuildings. The next three missions northwards are Santa Ines
, along Hwy 246 in Solvang, La Purísima Concepción
just outside Lompoc (protected as a state historical monument), and San Luis Obispo de Tolosa
, another compact site right in the middle of downtown San Luis Obispo. In contrast, San Miguel Arcángel
has a quiet, countryside setting alongside US 101 on the south edge of San Miguel, near the Salinas River. Next mission northwards is San Antonio de Padua
(established 1771; this the most remote in the state, built far from any main towns in the coastal mountains, now completely surrounded by Fort Hunter Liggett Military Reservation though still open to daily visitors. Nuestra Señora de la Soledad
is another rural mission, in farmland south of Soledad, and consists only of a restored chapel, courtyard, garden, and the adobe ruins of several other structures.
On the south edge of Carmel, Mission San Carlos Borromeode Carmelo
has an attractive and authentic appearance, lined with palm trees and floral plants, and looking out over wooded hills beside the coast. San Juan Bautista
is the largest of the 21 missions, situated on the east side of the small town of the same name, between Salinas and Hollister. Nearby Mission Santa Cruz
is built along highway 1 in Santa Cruz city center, 2 miles from Monterey Bay. The next four missions are located in cities, around San Francisco Bay: Santa Clara de Asís
, San Jose
(in Fremont), San Francisco de Asís
(Mission Dolores) and San Rafael Arcángel
, all part of urban neighborhoods. The furthest north of the 21 Spanish missions is San Francisco Solano
, the main attraction of Sonoma State Historic Park in the suburbs of Sonoma.