Travel Journey of the Week: Mission Dolores (6)

This week’s challenge from Liberated Traveler is the wonderful city of San Francisco, a place that found its way into my heart during the 1960s hippy movement when it was the world’s “City of Love”. I have already written extensively about this city and how it has messed with my head over the decades, so for this challenge I am going to tell you about the delightful Misión San Francisco de Asís, popularly known as Mission Dolores.

This is the oldest intact building in the City of San Francisco and the only intact Mission Chapel in the chain of 21 established under the direction of Father Serra.  It is the third most northerly with only Sonoma and San Rafael further north and the sixth mission to be founded –  June 29 1776. I have a ‘thing’ for the Californian missions, or as my husband would say, an obsession. For some reason I am drawn to their simplicity, their history and the tranquillity of their sites. As someone who is an atheist, this is odd, but no different I suppose than my general interest in churches and graveyards.  One added bonus though is that the California Missions are all located on or near Highway 101, which roughly traces El Camino Real and I don’t need much more of an excuse to take a road-trip!

To find the mission you have to step outside the usual tourist areas of the city (Union Square, Alamo Square, Embarcadero and Fisherman’s Wharf) and head to Mission District. The 16th Street Mission Station is the nearest BART, and the mission itself is on the corner of 16th Street and Dolores Street. Much of Mission Dolores is original with adobe walls and redwood logs supporting the roof. The gilded reredos came from Mexico in 1796 and the colourful wall paintings are good examples of early California art. Whilst I was there a school trip was visiting and the children seemed more interested in me and my camera than the teacher who was telling them about the history of the site. I on the other hand was very interested.

The Basilica is a few steps away, but although the Mission survived the 1906 earthquake, the parish church wasn’t so fortunate. The present building dates from 1918. It contains some beautiful stained windows, including angels and 21 California Missions and a lovely sunburst pattern.

There is also a little museum on the site, but my favourite part has to be the cemetery. Most of the headstones are of people who died in the decades following the Gold Rush when San Francisco was growing fast with many illnesses and early deaths. Many people buried here gave their names to the streets of San Francisco.

So my advice to you is that if you are lucky to travel to the lovely city of San Francisco, try and make some time ( a couple of hours will suffice) to visit this beautiful historic site – you won’t regret it.

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I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

28 thoughts on “Travel Journey of the Week: Mission Dolores (6)”

  1. Were you a Haight-Ashbury, Frisco Hippie Jude? Surely not! You cannot be older than me, and I was far too young. As you may recall, I have never been to the USA. (see this for explanation- )
    But like you, I am an atheist, yet strangely drawn to religious buildings. (The Blue Mosque in Istanbul, and the Registan in Samarkand, are two of the favourites that I have actually visited) As usual, you have made me want to visit San Francisco, and you can never do better than that!
    Regards as always, Pete. x

      1. The good old Soviet days! Tourism on the cheap, with the whole ‘Silk Road’ experience. Bukhara, train journies through the desert, the Tsien Tsing, (or Tze Tien) mountains, on the Chinese border. Good days to be a Commie! Mid 1980’s, Tashkent in 35 plus degrees. Great stuff Jude…X

    1. Charcoal Sue – it was a lovely shot but unfortunately blurred, so I tried a different artistic effect. I’m glad you like 🙂

  2. I’m so glad you posted about this! I wanted to go there so bad when I was visiting, but there just wasn’t time. You are helping me realize that I didn’t even scratch the surface of San Fran. I must go back someday. Thank you for the fantastic post and wonderful photos!

  3. San Francisco is one of my most favourite places in the world! We visited quite a few missions when living in California, out of interest but also because over there when in 5th Grade, the kids get to do a project on a Californian mission of their choice, meaning, visit it, write a very in-depth report on it, presented with contents list and photographs all put together in a neat binder and also to make a model of the mission. I got to do this three times. Very, very time consuming but I certainly learn a lot even if the kids didn’t!!
    Mission Dolores is one that we didn’t visit so I very much enjoyed reading all about it and seeing the photos through your eyes Jude, thank you 🙂

    1. That sounds like a wonderful project to me 🙂
      I have visited half a dozen I think, all have their interesting aspects. But predominantly it is the peacefulness of such places that I love – even those in the centre of a busy city like San Francisco. Maybe I should write another post about them.

      Oh, and maybe you could write a post about your experiences of San Fran? I’d love to read it xx

      1. Yes, it was fun to do. I will have to look out the photos of the missions that we made. They are very peaceful places. Yes, do another post about them, I will look forward to that!
        Perhaps I could do one about San Fran. I never really thought of writing about my travels but it would be a nice way to share. Now you’ve got me thinking, firstly I will have to dig out all my old photos and then scan them in and then….
        Watch this space, but I can’t guarantee it will be quick 🙂 xx

    1. Weren’t they just? Especially that first one! I can’t believe she had never been inside before. I wonder what I am missing near me? well, actually I know I have to go to Hereford Cathedral and see the Mappa Mundi before I leave this area – if I do that is!

  4. P.S. Poor Bouchard was completely outclassed. I’d better not pick a winner tomorrow. 🙂 How’s the ‘shortlist’ coming on?

    1. Didn’t sleep until 5 am this morning, tossing and turning, thinking about moving. And to make matters worse I discovered that the house we were gazumped on actually sold at the same price we offered! And we were a week away from exchanging contracts! Oh well, I am sure there is a house out there for us – somewhere 🙂

      Hope tomorrow’s match is a good one. Just finished watching the men’s doubles, that was really good!

        1. Been unsettled since I stopped teaching in 2008 – thought we were moving then. I’m quite a fatalist, I’m sure there is a reason. I just don’t know what it is yet 😉

          As my grandson said recently (on the death of the family rabbit) “Buddhist’s say not to expect the world to be perfect, then when bad things happen you’re not totally unprepared”

        2. Gosh Jo. I have lived all over the place, longest was 18 years in Doncaster (long story) where I still have one unmarried son. Daughter and grandchildren in Surrey (where we moved from to come up to Shropshire to support the MiL) another son and DiL in Wiltshire (army) and eldest son and partner and new baby grandson in Sydney plus his daughter (16) who lives with her mother in Canberra. I miss my grandkids here, but we can’t afford to move back to Surrey or the south-east.

        3. I’d go Sydney 🙂 Only joking! Well, not really. I’d love to go to Sydney and those beaches must be up to scratch.

        4. Oh, Jo, if only you knew how much heartache I have been through trying to get into Oz! Just wasn’t meant to be, and unless all my kids end up there, never will be. You are right though, those beaches are wonderful – they live at Dee Why – daft name, but gorgeous beach 🙂

  5. Oh I wish I had seen this mission, Jude. It looks lovely. I know you are really fascinated with the missions. I would have liked to have spent some time exploring all of them. I love that dome, and it does look similar to the Basilica. 🙂

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