The Royal Presidio of Santa Barbara was the last of the four presidios established by the Spanish. The territory covered by the military district of the Santa Barbara Presidio included more than 7,000 square miles, and extended from the San Fernando Valley to San Luis Obispo, and from the Pacific Ocean inland to the San Joaquin Valley. The presidio protected the missions of La Purisima, Santa Ynes, Santa Barbara, San Buenaventura, and San Fernando. The initial settlement at the presidio began in 1782, and consisted of temporary barracks and a palisade. Permanent construction began in 1788. Although Monterey was the political capital of California during most of the Spanish and all of the Mexican periods, the majority of the ruling class preferred the climate and beautiful surroundings of Santa Barbara. The Pueblo of Santa Barbara was established in 1826 after a community began to develop around the walls of the presidio. The original appearance of the presidio was that of an enclosed quadrangle of buildings (offices and residences) surrounding a central plaza that was traditionally used as the parade grounds. The Presidio of Santa Barbara remained in use until the mid-19th century, long after California's other presidios had been abandoned. What remains today of the old presidio is incorporated within the Santa Barbara Presidio Historic District. Two adobe buildings remain from the presidio and have been carefully restored. El Cuartel and La Caneda Adobe are part of El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park. Several other historic adobes, both inside and outside the walls of the presidio, have been preserved as well.
The Santa Barbara Presidio Historic District is bounded by Carrillo, Garden, De la Guerra, and Anacapa sts. El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park is open daily 10:30am to 4:30pm; admission is free, for more information call 805-966-9719 or visit the website.