The Alamo & Missions
In the 18th century, Franciscan priests from Spain established five Catholic missions along the San Antonio River, primarily to extend Spain’s dominion northward from Mexico, but also to convert and educate the native population. Today, the five missions (Alamo, Mission San José, Mission Concepción, Mission San Juan and Mission Espada) represent the largest concentration of Spanish colonial missions in North America, and they have been nominated for World Heritage Status.
The Alamo (Mission San Antonio de Valero) was founded in 1718 as the first mission in San Antonio, serving as a way station between east Texas and Mexico. In 1836, decades after the mission had closed, the Alamo became an inspiration and a motivation for liberty during the Texas Revolution.
For 13 days in 1836, close to 200 Texas defenders held the Alamo from over one thousand of General Santa Anna's troops from Mexico. The most famous of the defenders, William Travis, Jim Bowie, and Davy Crockett, died fighting overwhelming odds for freedom.
You can watch the most accurate depiction of the Battle of the Alamo at the IMAX movie theatre.
The San Antonio Missions
After the Alamo was established in 1718, the Franciscan priests built four other missions in the area with the help of the native population, each mission three miles apart from the other, all south of the Alamo. Each mission was to be self-sustaining, incorporating farming, ranching, crafts and trades into their daily activities.
The History of Mission San Antonio de Valero (The Alamo): A timeline
The March 6, 1836 Battle of the Alamo was preceded by many battles between the newly arrived Texas colonists, called Texians, and the Mexican military. Texas was Mexican territory, following Mexico’s independence from Spain in 1821, and the settlers arriving from the United States wanted their independence from Mexico. But the story of the Alamo itself began more than 100 years earlier.
The Alamo in Popular Culture
The cry “Remember the Alamo!” was heard in Texas within days of the fall of the Alamo, as the Texian army gathered strength and went on to victory over General Santa Anna at San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. In the mid 1950's, the movie King of the Wild Frontier helped cement the Alamo defender’s place in popular culture. In 1960, the story of the Alamo became bigger than life when John Wayne starred as Davy Crockett in a movie about the battle.