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In politics, life and history, people have always made valiant efforts to convert the masses to their ideologies, with religion as one of the core objectives. I already told you about The River Walk in San Antonio, but visitors to the region will also be encouraged to see the San Antonio Missions. The outposts were established by various religious orders, mostly Catholics, to spread Christianity among the local Natives. They also formed part of the colonization system that stretched across the Spanish Southwest in the 17th - 19th centuries. I've seen so many churches in Russia and all of my travels that they are of little interest to me now, but I took the time to visit one of the Missions during my business trip, and met some interesting locals in the process. These human encounters make any expedition worthwhile.

1. If you have limited time in any U.S. city, and no car, I recommend hopping on one of the local trolley buses. They transport you to various sites, and you can hop on and off as you like to explore by foot. They run on a constant schedule, with pick-ups every 15 - 20 minutes. You also get the added benefit of hearing local folklore by natives who have lived in the city for a long time. I stopped only at the Mission San Jose, which is considered the "Queen" of the Missions because it's the largest. All four Missions now form part of the San Antonio Missions National Park, and they are interconnected with walking and bike trails.


2. The grounds are immaculate, and I especially liked the entrance to the Native living compounds. The Spanish Missions were not only churches, but fully functioning communities, with religion as the binding theme and perhaps even a sort of controlling, brain-washing mechanism in my view. They were built primarily to expand Spanish New World influence northward from Mexico, and introduce native inhabitants into Spanish society.


3. The Missions flourished during the mid-1700's, but quickly declined due to inadequate military support, disease and increased hostilities between the Apaches and Comanches. The living quarters are very small and basic inside, originally made from simple mud and sticks, followed by adobe brick and later stone. The missionaries not only introduced the Natives to Catholicism, but also schooled them in the Spanish language, local government and trade skills. Yet the Mission was completely secularized by the early 1800's, with businesses and residents inside and outside the indigenous walls.


4. The San Antonio Conservation Society purchased the area in 1920 and soon after it was restored to near original form. Now it seems most locals visit just for the serene and green landscapes, which serve as creative inspiration. There are artists spread all over the lawn, sitting in chairs, painting the main church on the compound. I think this is not a bad way to pass the time in old age. :)


5. The main church was built in 1768 and made from limestone.


6. I like the design, as there are a lot of overlapping arches throughout. At times, it feels more like a castle than a church.


7. Inside, I was scolded by a nun for taking photos. Apparently it is prohibited unless you have advance permission from one of the priests. But this is just typical church decor, nothing unusual or compelling in my view. Christ on a cross, stained glass windows and a lot of gold.


8. Something unusual - there are only two remaining graves left on Mission grounds, sitting by the front door of the church. One is an unmarked iron cross and the other is the tombstone of Juan Huisar, who is believed to be the grandson of the artist who created the famous Rose Window inside the church. I don't have a picture of the stained glass window - well, the nun scared me into submission and I stopped taking photos. :)) When the grounds were restored during the Great Depression, the dead buried here were moved to other locations. I think it's really tragic and horrible, but personally I wish to be cremated and spread across some majestic mountain landscape, so that something similar does not happen to me.


9. Just last year, the San Jose Mission and the Alamo became UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and there is a heavy flow of tourist traffic. You can explore all of the Missions via bicycle if you wish, and they are available to rent right on site. I forget the cost, but they are very cheap. I think tourism is one of America's greatest strengths, building infrastructure such that it's comfortable and accessible for visitors in almost all circumstances.


10. I forget this man's name, but he stood right in front of the church with his easel and a fat, furry cat at his foot. He said local artists' clubs gather there weekly to socialize and paint, and there was a real camaraderie amongst them. I cannot wait until I retire.  I know many people are scared of it, that they will be bored or lose cognitive abilities if they quit work, but I can think of so many other ways to spend my time than sitting at a desk pushing legal papers and arguments...:)

sat28 copy

That's it, a short report. Sometimes readers tell me I write too much history in my posts, so if you want to learn more about the history of the Missions, just google it. :) Tomorrow I'll try to tell you about Soligalich, Russia.


( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 17th, 2016 02:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you. The photos and the narrative are impressive.
May. 17th, 2016 02:43 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. :) Unfortunately, no one reads such posts anymore. This was not the case two, or even one year ago. Better to write about bad things, sex, tits...these topics feed the masses.
May. 17th, 2016 03:11 pm (UTC)
My experience with the Russians always returns me to the brass tacks of Matthew 7:6.
May. 17th, 2016 03:07 pm (UTC)
Teaching Spanish( English later) and converting to Christianity had a very ugly forms for centuries to come, the children were separated from parents, they were prohibited to speak their language and religiously brainwashed. They were forced to loose their culture and even an ability to talk to their parents. It was happening till mid 20th century almost everywhere.... Pressurized melting pot designed by those who always right. Do you see international projections of this mentality? I do, it's still doing very well.
I like the places like this because they are authentic in contrary to later style simulations. Thanks for showing.
May. 17th, 2016 05:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading. :) Glad you liked the post.
May. 17th, 2016 04:11 pm (UTC)
I'd like to have a castle like this somewhere on a distant planet.

How is it inside, feeling the Force or not? :)
It is old and must be "charged" but I think it's not much prayer going on now.
May. 17th, 2016 05:39 pm (UTC)
I have such a moody disposition lately, it seems I belong on another planet, where I'm the only inhabitant. :) The inside of the arches is very cool, you can walk all through the compound, but I never feel any type of "force" in religious environments. They stir absolutely no emotions.
May. 17th, 2016 07:02 pm (UTC)
May. 17th, 2016 07:07 pm (UTC)
Привет, Влад. :) Спасибо!
May. 17th, 2016 07:11 pm (UTC)
Буду ждать еще фотографий:)
May. 17th, 2016 07:24 pm (UTC)
More on the way tomorrow. :)
May. 17th, 2016 07:25 pm (UTC)
May. 17th, 2016 07:18 pm (UTC)
Was nun catolic?
May. 17th, 2016 07:18 pm (UTC)
Yes, a Catholic nun! :)
May. 17th, 2016 07:20 pm (UTC)
I suposed they are all kind and full of charity.
May. 17th, 2016 07:24 pm (UTC)
They are usually very strict disciplinarians. :) I went to Catholic school for a year and the nun's walked around with rulers, ready to smack your hands if you disobeyed.
May. 17th, 2016 07:36 pm (UTC)
Awful place!
May. 17th, 2016 07:36 pm (UTC)
Yes, but I survived their brutality. :))
May. 17th, 2016 07:32 pm (UTC)

Nice and interesting place.

May. 17th, 2016 07:34 pm (UTC)
San Antonio is worth visiting, but I'm not sure how the other Missions there compare to this one. Next time I might walk through the others out of curiosity.
May. 18th, 2016 01:24 pm (UTC)
It will be interesting. I love old ruins.
May. 18th, 2016 12:42 am (UTC)
Interesting comment about the nun... It's a National Park, so it's funded by tax dollars. As such, I doubt the nun has any sort of authority there. I would have reminded her of that.
The missions are interesting, though. Probably the only truly historic place to be found in Texas.
May. 18th, 2016 11:49 am (UTC)
I had the same thoughts about the nun's authority. :) However, there was nothing interesting inside the church to photograph anyway, so it was not worth the argument. If I really wanted a photo of something inside, I would have protested. :)
Jun. 13th, 2016 10:01 am (UTC)
> the nun scared me into submission and I stopped taking photos
IMHO this is the only similarity between this place and typical Russian monasteries opened for tourirts. As for the rest - this place seems much more tourist-friendly. Though I don't ride I like the idea with bicycles very much!
> personally I wish to be cremated and spread across some majestic mountain landscape
Me too!
Jun. 15th, 2016 11:00 am (UTC)
Bicycles are heavily integrated into the tourist and local structures in most American cities now. You can easily rent them, and drop off at any location. Convenient way to get around as a tourist, or even to commute to work. Here in Washington, DC, we have a huge cycling system, with bike lanes on major roads in the city. A lot of people ride bikes to work, but still nowhere near as many as in Holland, Denmark and some other European nations.
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )


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