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[photo] [photo] Mission San Francisco de la Espada
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During the 18th century, the Spanish established a chain of missions along the San Antonio River. These missions became the foundation for the city of San Antonio. The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, administered by the National Park Service, incorporates four 18th-century missions and their acequias, or irrigation systems. The Mission Trail extends eight miles and connects these historic places. The goal of the missions was to spread the Catholic faith among the native inhabitants and to serve as a buffer against expansion by foreign invaders. The missions were primarily religious centers where the Coahuiltecan Indian population was instructed in the Catholic religion and taught European beliefs.

Mission San Francisco de la Espada is the southern-most of the San Antonio missions. The mission was established in 1731 and was used by James Bowie, William Travis and the Texas army as a stronghold against the Mexicans during Texas' struggle for independence. Ruins of the mission walls, a granary, a convento (missionary quarters) and a fortified tower also remain. The mission's kilns are the only known lime kilns in Texas that survive from the Spanish Colonial period. The mission has been rebuilt throughout its history and is currently being restored by the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

Mission San Francisco de la Espada is located at 10040 Espada Rd. off of Mission Rd. west of US 281 in San Antonio administered by San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. The Visitor Center is open 9:00am to 5:00pm daily, closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Call 210-627-2021 or 210-932-1001 for further information. Maps for the Mission Trail are available at the San Antonio Visitor Center, 317 Alamo Park. Mission San Francisco de la Espada has also been documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey.

Mission San Francisco de la Espada, within San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, is the subject of an online-lesson plan produced by Teaching with Historic Places, a National Register program that offers classroom-ready lesson plans on properties listed in the National Register. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page. Other travel itineraries in the National Park Service's ongoing series include many historic destinations that you can visit online or in person. Each Discover Our Shared Heritage itinerary spotlights a different geographic region, community, or theme.


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