We visited this mission last winter while in Southern California. You may have heard of it because of the swallows that return here every year. It’s quite a complex with lots of historical exhibits in the mission structures. You can take an audio tour of the mission with a hand set, punch in the number of the exhibit where you are standing and listen as long as you like.
Mission San Juan Capistrano, founded Nov. 1, 1776 by Junipero Serra, was one of a series of Franciscan missions built in California by Spain. 21 missions were spaced about 30 miles apart along the El Camino Real (the King’s Highway).
The Serra Chapel is named after Father Junipero Serra.
This is a dining room made up as it would have looked in the 1800s.
Sacred Garden with the Bell Wall
On December 8, 1812 there was an earthquake at San Juan Capistrano. Damage occurred at several of the missions in the region. There were 40 Native American parishioners killed at an early morning service when the Great Stone Church collapsed.
This is a replica of the church before the earthquake.
The Mission was a lovely place to spend a day with friends.
Statue of Father Serra and Indian Boy
You can see the little swallows nests here in the arch. We were too early in the year to actually see any birds.
The swallows of Capistrano arrive every March 19th. They migrate 15,000 miles from Goya, Argentina. Some colonies number more than 3,500 nests. The return of the swallows has been celebrated since the early 1930s. At that time the Mission was the largest building in the community, which is why the swallows continued to return. As the area developed and nests were removed during stabilization of the ruins, alternate locations for nesting were created. The number of swallows returning to the Mission began to decline. Since 2010 the Mission has been working on ways to keep the swallows coming back by using man made nests and recordings of courtship calls.
I bought a metal swallow sculpture to hang on our fence back home.