Saturday, November 28, 2015
Mission San Juan Capistrano is a historical landmark dating from the days when the Spanish settled much of California. Capistrano is the seventh of the 21 famous California missions, and was founded in 1776.
It is largely in ruins thanks to earthquakes and neglect, although the oldest building still in use - "Serra's Chapel", built in 1782 - still stands. Capistrano has been a popular destination for tourists for decades. I think my only visit was for a school field trip! Here are some vintage images, undated, but surely from the 1950's.
Some of you may have been to the mission in recent years, and it sure doesn't look like this anymore. By now development has encroached, and those trees are mostly gone. I love the presence of a liquor store just yards from the picturesque entrance to the grounds!
Even this little entry arch has changed since these photos were taken... presumably the old one was damaged in yet another earthquake, possibly the 1971 San Fernando quake (which I still remember vividly!).
Father Junipero Serra is a familiar name to California schoolchildren; he was the Franciscan friar & priest who helped found the first nine California missions. Surprisingly, the chapel in San Juan Capistrano is the only extant structure in which it is known that Father Serra celebrated mass.
This last photo is my favorite! The central fountain is certainly picturesque, and is surrounded by lots of ladies (and one boy, as far as I can tell). These white doves are always in evidence, though Capistrano is most famous for the annual return of migratory swallows that have flown 6000 miles (from Argentina). St. Joseph's day (March 19th) is listed as the day the "miracle of the swallows" occurs.
I hope you have enjoyed your visit to San Juan Capistrano!