Californian Mission: Santa Barbara (10)

On our road-trip down the Pacific Highway 1 from San Francisco to San Diego in 2009  we  had an overnight stay in Santa Barbara, known as the American Riviera. It is an expensive city to stay in as it is very popular with holidaying Americans and not too far from Los Angeles. Nestled in amongst the gently rolling hills above the Pacific Ocean it is  known for its Moorish architecture, colourful history and beauty. Naturally, before we left, I had to have a look at the 10th historic mission founded there in 1786 and known as The Queen of the Missions.


Unfortunately the mission wasn’t open so I wasn’t able to go inside and have a look around so my photos are all from the outside. The church was destroyed in 1925 by an earthquake and restored to its former glory with wrought iron, terracotta and carved wood.


The twin bell towers and Doric façade present an imposing impression at the top of a hill overlooking the city and bay with a backdrop of the Santa Ynez Mountains.

Father Junipero Serra
Father Junipero Serra

(click on an image to enlarge)

Unfortunately the missionaries who brought religion and trousers to the local Chumash Indians also brought influenza and smallpox that killed the 4,000 Indians who are buried in the mission cemetery.

Doric Details
Doric Details

There is a famous book by Scott O’Dell called “The Island of the Blue Dolphins” (1961) that is read in schools in the US which is based on a true story about a Native American girl left alone on one of the outer Channel Islands for 18 years before the missionaries who had taken everyone from her village to the mainland–but left her–came back to fetch her. Everyone from her village had died and she succumbed to disease within a year arriving at the mission (where they made her wear ‘proper’ dresses so she was suitably attired for the ‘mainland’). She is also buried at the Mission.

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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.

15 thoughts on “Californian Mission: Santa Barbara (10)”

    1. Oh Yes! It is a lovely drive down the coast in that direction as you are next to the ocean all the way. And put Hearst castle on the list (pre book tickets) as it is an absolute must see for decadence! What month are we talking about?

      1. You are so right about the Hurst experience – we did it with the kids about 6 years ago – something for everyone there!!!!
        We are talking October early on.

    2. Early October could be a good time. I know in the summer the coast is bugged with fog so you don’t get the views, and when we drove down in February we hit a lot of rain. June and September are supposed to be the best times to do it, when it is less crowded and the weather perfect.

  1. Perhaps not as nice as some of the other missions Jude, but then you couldn’t get inside, so understandable. Still, it is an imposing structure, and must have impressed the locals!
    Regards as always, Pete. x

    1. It was a Sunday when we were there and the church was very busy – mass going on – and we needed to get on the road to Long Island where we were staying the night. I was nervous of driving on the LA freeways so didn’t want to hang around for the mission to open. I would have liked to have gone inside though, there is a museum too. Maybe there will be another chance 🙂

    1. The last one Jo. But I am hoping there will be at least one more visit to the US and California to try for a couple more!

  2. This is a beautiful gallery! I have never been but now will add it to my growing list!

  3. As always, Jude, lovely to see these photos and a very enjoyable write-up about this beautiful Mission. I was just in Santa Barbara last April when I visited CA, it is a favourite of mine to visit but yes, it is expensive 🙂 xx

      1. No it wasn’t, when we lived in LA we visited quite often, but not so much when we moved to the central coast. I can well imagine the awesome steak you had there 🙂

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