• The churches of San Antonio were the heart of the Spanish colonal mission communities.

    San Antonio Missions

    National Historical Park Texas

Mission Community

Drawing of Mission Espada's compound

Drawing of Mission Espada's compound as it may have looked in the 1780s, with modern buildings shown as gray shadows.

Several gateways provided entrance into the compounds of the walled communities. Bastions, or fortified towers, were located along the walls to provide defense. Living quarters were built inside, against the compound walls, for the Indian neophytes and Spanish soldiers, usually only one or two with their families. The Church was the focal point of the missions; the missionary lived in the convento. Workshops and storerooms dotted the grounds. Outside the walls were the croplands and ranches, and the danger of the Apache and Comanche.

 

Did You Know?

Ruins of a home at Mission Espada

that Spanish missions were not churches? They were Indian towns, with the church as the focus, where, in the 1700s, the native people were learning to become Spanish citizens. In order to become a citizen, they had to be Catholic; that is why the King of Spain sent missionaries to acculturate them.