So about that A/C… Texas was hot as hades and it was only March. I had just left Columbus (OH) and it was still below freezing, with snow on the ground. So to show up in Texas and be welcomed by 90+ degree heat was painful; I was completely unprepared. I had on jeans and a thermal long sleeved t-shirt. My car was packed with my suitcases, but I had bought very little summer clothing.  I had only been focusing on my point of origin, with the freezing weather and my destination, SF, with it’s cold spring/summers. I hadn’t thought much about the in between and found myself regretting it greatly. I was tempted to be a real tourist and buy an “I love Texas” tee, but I just couldn’t…so I burned.

Inside the mission

Inside the mission

That is until I walked inside the mission. It is no exaggeration that they are an oasis of cool air, the temperature felt at least 20 degrees cooler and there was even a breeze. It was an engineering miracle, because there wasn’t an A/C unit to be found in any of them. From what I can gather, it is because the walls and roof are so thick and solid. This is what had to win followers, because I know I would have gladly spent hours on my knees in the chapel in order not to burn up in the heat. I would have been the first convert! True story…

1574Completed in 1792, Mission San Jose is the largest of the missions in the National Park, and is called the “Queen of the Missions”. It was almost fully restored in the early part of the 20th century, and as a consequence, the church at the mission is still used today to conduct Sunday mass.

Mission San Jose

Mission San Jose

One of the more interesting things to me was that the missions all look very different. You would think that with limited resources and labor that it would have seemed easier to build the exact same structure in multiple places, but great pains were made to make them all unique and different.

 

San Jose Mission

San Jose Mission

The Rose Window, La Ventana de Rosa, is considered one of the best examples of baroque architecture in North America. It was believed to be the site used for the holy feast of the Pentecost. No one knows the real legend around the name of the structure, but it is believed to be named after the lover of the creator.

La Ventana de Rosa

La Ventana de Rosa

The missions were fortified cities. It’s nice to believe that the people within the mission lived peacefully beside the native population, but remember they took land with little regard to the native groups. The missionaries brought diseases, that wiped out large populations of natives. They robbed the natives that lived within the missions of their own language, culture and religious beliefs. There were those who felt like the Spanish settlers and missionaries were plagues. So the missions all had well fortified walls , that kept the inhabitants in relative safety.

1584

1581

A modern convenience – I wonder if the urn kept the water cool until use…

 

Ceiling in one of the "apartment" along the outer wall

Ceiling in one of the “apartment” along the outer wall

 

Wall fresco

Wall fresco