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History of Mission San Antonio de Valero (The Alamo)

The Alamo 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 approximately 2,500 of General Santa Anna's troops from Mexico. The most famous of the defenders, William Travis, James Bowie, and David Crockett, died fighting overwhelming odds for freedom.

You can watch a popular depiction of the Battle of the Alamo at the IMAX movie theatre.

A Timeline:

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  • 1718—Mission San Antonio de Valero is established by Franciscan priests from Spain along San Pedro Creek, then moved in 1719 to a location south of the Alamo’s present location.
  • 1724—Spanish officials move the mission to its present site following destruction by a storm. Construction of the Convento begins.
     
  • 1744—Construction of the mission’s church begins.
     
  • 1756—The church’s walls collapse.
     
  • 1762—Construction work of the mission ends before the roof is complete. The roof arches and bell tower fall.
     
  • 1793—Spanish authorities announce secularization of the five Spanish missions in San Antonio, granting local control of the churches and mission lands.
     
  • 1803-1835—The Alamo is occupied by Mexican troops, including a company of Spanish soldiers from Álamo de Parras, Coahuila, Mexico. The name “Alamo” may come from these soldiers, or perhaps from a grove of cottonwood (“alamo” in Spanish) trees along the bank of the San Antonio River.
     
  • 1836—Texians occupy the mission as a fortress during the Battle of the Alamo.
     
  • 1846—United States Army occupies site and rents mission Church and Long Barrack from Catholic Church. Buildings are transformed into regional quartermaster depot. 
  • 1861-1865—Confederate forces control site during Civil War. 
  • 1871—Catholic Church sells remaining part of Low Barrack and south wall gate to the City of San Antonio. 
  • 1876—United States Army begins relocating to newly built Fort Sam Houston. 
  • 1877—Catholic Church sells Long Barrack to businessman Honore Grenet, who operates a general store out of the again renovated building. 
  • 1800s—Crockett Block buildings built along western edge of Alamo footprint. 
     
  • 1883—State of Texas purchases the mission Church from the Catholic Church.
  • 1903—Daughters of the Republic of Texas purchase the Long Barrack building. 
     
  • 1905—Texas reimburses Clara Driscoll and the Daughters of the Republic of Texas for the purchase of the Long Barrack and pass legislation naming the DRT as custodians of the Alamo to maintain it as a shrine to Texas liberty.
     
  • 2011—Texas General Land Office is granted authority over the Alamo.
  • 2015—San Antonio Missions granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status. 

The Texas Revolution

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  • September, 1835—Mexican General Martín Perfecto de Cós arrives in the port at Copano, 30 miles north of Corpus Christi, with 500 troops on their way to San Antonio.
     
  • October 1, 1835—The Battle of Gonzales takes place with Gonzales residents refusing to give up their cannon to the Mexican army, causing the Mexican troops to retreat. The War of Texas Independence begins.
     
  • October 9, 1835—The Battle of Goliad results in victory for the Texians.
     
  • October 28, 1835—Despite being outnumbered 3 to 1, the Texians defeat General Cós and his men at the Battle of Concepción.
     
  • December 5, 1835—The Siege of Bexar takes place, involving days of fighting between General Cós’s Mexican troops and the Texians, ending with the surrender of Cós on December 9.
     
  • January 7, 1836—Santa Anna’s troops arrive in Saltillo to begin their march to San Antonio to reclaim the city.

The Battle of the Alamo

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  • February 23, 1836Antonio López de Santa Anna and the Centralist forces arrive and the Siege of the Alamo begins.
     
  • February 24, 1836Travis writes his famous letter to "the people of Texas and all Americans of the world" requesting reinforcements. In the coming days, there are several more requests by Travis for reinforcements.
     
  • March 5, 1836According to legend, Travis draws a line in the sand and gives every man the choice to cross the line and join him in a fight to the death to defend the Alamo. All but one man crosses.
     
  • March 6, 1836The Alamo falls. In a matter of hours, all the defenders are killed and the Mexican Army claim victory.
To learn more about the history of the Alamo, visit its official website.