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In the 18th century, Spanish priests established five Catholic missions along the San Antonio River. The systems instituted by the friars led to an ethnically diverse society that continues to influence our city. Today, the five missions (Mission San Antonio de Valero, Mission San José, Mission Concepción, Mission San Juan and Mission Espada) represent the largest concentration of Spanish colonial missions in North America and have been named a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
UNESCO encourages the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and national heritage around the world. To be chosen as a World Heritage Site, the missions had to meet demanding selection criteria that verified their historic importance. This rare honor has been bestowed upon only 23 sites in the United States. The missions are the first World Heritage Site in Texas.
Learn more about our World Heritage Site missions:
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World Heritage Trip Idea
Explore San Antonio's exciting past at world-class museums, historical sites and cultural landmarks, including our 18th century Spanish colonial missions, honored as the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Texas. Read more
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)
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 1950s, the movie King of the Wild Frontier helped cement the Alamo defenders' 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.