First founded in 1718 as “San Antonio de Béxar,” the San Antonio we know today is filled with a vibrant culture of Tex-Mex history and hertiage. The area is home to a countless number of tourist attractions, including some of the many orgininal historic sites that have made an impact throughout its existence. Here’s a small look at some of the many historic sites in the San Antonio area.
The Alamo is probably the most famous and well known of San Antonio’s historic sites. The Alamo has been a witness more than 300 years of history, including the first Spanish colonization, Mexico’s stance for Independence, and the Confederacy’s stand during the Battle of the Alamo during the Civil War.
Today, the Alamo can be found in the Alamo Plaza in downtown San Antonio and includes exhibits that showcase information about the Texas Revolution and additional Texas History. Visitors can also visit the Alamo Garden or walk a short distance to the River Walk. When in San Antonio, don’t forget to remember the Alamo when planning your historical stops around the area. For additional information, visit the Alamo.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
Consistenting of over 1,643 acres on Big Sandy Creek, the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is one of the state’s most beautiful natural wonders. The Nature Conservancy of Texas, Inc., acquired the area in 1978, and in 1984 it was purchased by the State; however the park has been home to human beings for more than 11,000 years and remains on the National Register of Historic Places. The Area’s most distinguishing feature is definite the pink granite exfoliation dome and one of the largest batholiths in the United States, which rest at 1,825 feet above sea level, covering more than 640 areas, and rising over 425 feet.
Visitors come to the park to enjoy sight seeing, camping, hiking, rock climbing, and much more. For more information, visit the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area.
King William Historic District
Located in downtown San Antonio and stretching for more than 25 blocks, the King William Historic District gives visitors a glimpse into 19th century local residences that have been preserved and renovated. While the area was originally farmland in 1718, it was transformed into a settlement by Carl Guenther, a German immigrant, and quickly filled with mansions styled in Greek, Revival, Victorian, and Italianate architecture. In the 1920s, the district took a decline with some of the mansions being converted into apartments; however, in the 1960s, the area was rediscovered and another renaissance began in the community to preserve its beauty.
To find out more about this historic district in the heart of downtown San Antonio, visit the King William Association.
San Fernando Cathedral
The San Fernando Cathedral was built in 1738 as a place to celebrate religion and secular duties. The Cathedral is often thought of as the “heart and soul” of San Antonio, and to this day it serves as the cathedral for the Diocese of the city, which continues its tradition of being the oldest, continuously functioning religious community in Texas. It was first founded by a group of 15 families who came to the area from the Canary Islands at the invitation of King Phillip V of Spain. The Cathedral has been the host to a number of significant historical events, including the marriage of Texas hero James Bowie to Ursula de Veramedi, in addition to being used as a lookout by Mexican General Santa Anna.
To find out more about this site, visit the San Fernando Cathedral.
Mission San José
There are many missions in the San Antonio area, but there’s one in particular that visitors should not pass up. Founded in 1720, Mission San José, which is known as the “Queen of the Missions,” is the largest of the missions and the most recent to be almost fully restored to its original design. When visitors come to the site today, they’re able to visit a restored mill that demonstrates wheat processing, in addition they’re able to see the walls that show the important of community living and self-sufficiency.
Today, the Mission is operated by the National Park Service and the park is open seven days a week from 9 to 5pm (excluding some holidays). To learn more, visit the National Park Service.
HemisFair Park is known for being the host of the 1968 World’s Fair. During April 6 through October 6, the Park was visited by more than 30 nations and six millions visitors from around the world. The theme of the World Fair was “Confluence of Civilizations in the Americas,” and the fair was also planned to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the founding of San Antonio in 1718.
Now HemisFair Park is maintained by the HemisFair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation (HPARC), which looks to “expand the existing park and improve its quality by merging the concept of preservation and growth.” If you’re interesting in finding out more, visit HemisFair Park.
Spanish Governor’s Palace
The Spanish Governor’s Palace is a national historic landmark that has been called the “most beautiful building in San Antonio” by the National Geographic Society. The Palace was constructed during the early 18th century and today it shows what’s left of the spirit of Presido San Antonio de Bejar. The Palace was built as a result of the rivalry between Spain and Franc to show dominance of the territory that is now what’s known as the southwestern part of the United States. The Palace was finally purchased by the City of Antonio is 1929 and restored in 1930.
To learn all about the extensive history of this site, visit the National Park Service.