Californian Mission: San Juan Bautista (15)

Founded June 24 1797, San Juan Bautista is the fifteenth mission in the chain stretching from San Diego to San Francisco along the coastal strip. The missionaries had hoped to establish missions only a day’s ride apart, but there were still long stretches between them making travel difficult and dangerous. A site in the San Juan Valley, some 90 miles southeast of San Francisco, was selected for the Mission of San Juan Bautista – St John the Baptist.

(click on an image to enlarge and for more information)

By 1800 there were more than 500 Mutsan Indians living at the mission, but in October that year a series of earthquakes occurred which caused extensive damage to the church and other buildings. Although rebuilt, more earthquakes destroyed the church including the great earthquake of 1906. The entire church was restored to its original design in 1975-6.

The cloister wing housed the living quarters of the padres and extends from the left side of the old mission church and the memorial bell stands in the interior courtyard where time stands still.

Memorial Bell
Memorial Bell

The church did not include a bell tower. Two bells were hung from a wooden bell rack. A two-tiered companario with three bell openings was added during the 1976 restoration. One of the bells is original.

My visit was on a hot day in February when I drove down from Santa Clara to visit the missions of San Juan and Carmel. It was an easy, scenic drive along Highway 101 to San Juan Bautista where I found an historic Spanish plaza looking as though I’d stepped back 160 years. I spent a couple of hours looking around this mission, its church, courtyard and museum rooms.

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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.

13 thoughts on “Californian Mission: San Juan Bautista (15)”

  1. Looks like a very nice spot Jude. I like the big cactus, and those shady cloisters look like a cool place, on a hot day.
    Regards as always, Pete. x

    1. I think the location of this one felt particularly Spanish Pete. Surrounded by open countryside (the town is very small) and some other Spanish style buildings I was transported to another time. A very tranquil place.

  2. Another lovely old mission, Jude. You must have had such a nice time on this trip 🙂 I especially love the statue with the backdrop of fields.

    1. I didn’t visit them all on the same trip Jo – over three visits to SF and San Diego. OH was at a conference most of the time so I just took off in the hire car and explored! Not always to missions 😉 But yes, you’re right, I did have some good times.

  3. Oh I do enjoy your Mission posts Jude. I think this is the Mission my middle son did for his 4th grade project. I will have to ask him and see if he remembers! As always, I think of California, and particularly those ‘hot’ February days 🙂

  4. Beautiful images of my former home town. I moved to NJ when I was 12 but my family has wonderful memories of growing up in San Juan Bautista. In fact, my youngest sister was baptized there at the mission.

      1. Yes it was an incredible challenge for my parents. My siblings and I just enjoyed the adventure. I’m a full fledged “Jersey girl” now and love where I live.

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