Almo Plaza

Copyright © 2016 | Alamo Plaza Mobile Guide. all rights reserved

Almo Plaza

Credit

This mobile tour of historic Alamo Plaza would not have been possible without the assistance of many partners.

Dr. Bruce Winders, The Alamo Curator, Historian and Author

Gary L. Foreman, Native Sun Productions www.nativesunproductions.com

George Nelson, Author of The Alamo: An Illustrated History

The Daughters of the Republic of Texas

State of Texas General Land Office

The Alamo Chapter #40, The Sons of the Republic of Texas

Bob Benavides, San Antonio Living History Association

City of San Antonio’s, Office of Historic Preservation

City of San Antonio’s, Center City Development Office

Images were provided by the following individuals and institutions:

Gary Foreman Photography/Model by Mark Lemon

The Alamo Collection, Artist Gary Zaboly

Mike Harris

The McNay Art Museum

George Nelson

Bruce Mackenzie Martin

Almo Plaza

Alamo Plaza

Many visitors find locating the Alamo Battlefield difficult due to the urban development that has occurred since 1836.
Almo Plaza

Welcome

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Hello. I’m Mayor Julian Castro. Welcome to historic Alamo Plaza! We hope that as you walk through the plaza and stop along the points of interest highlighted in the tour that you come away with a better understanding of this place filled with stories, from the Coahuiltecans during the Mission Era to the battle of 1836 to the present.

The modern City of San Antonio actually began as several separate settlements or communities that eventually merged into one. Situated near the headwaters of the San Pedro Creek and the San Antonio River, these early settlements represented the seats of Spanish civil, religious, and military power. You are currently standing on the grounds of the former Mission San Antonio de Valero.  Founded by Franciscan missionary Father Antonio de San Buenaventura y Olivares on May 1, 1718, Valero was the first of the local missions to be officially established. Father Antonio de Buenaventura Olivares accompanied by seven families of settlers arrived with the purpose of establishing a supply point halfway between the missions of eastern Coahuila and the remote missions of East Texas. In 1724, the mission was relocated to its present site along the east bank of the San Antonio River after two previous sites proved unsatisfactory
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A mission was an institution used by the Spanish to transplant their culture to remote frontier regions.  While many people associate missions with the Catholic faith, missions were much more than just religious centers.  The purpose of this frontier institution was to convert indigenous people into Christians and Spaniards.  Although missionaries introduced native people to Spain’s national religion, Catholicism, they also taught the new converts occupational skills and the principles of Spanish government.  Eventually the missions would be secularized and a self-sufficient Spanish community remained where before one had not existed. What had really been accomplished, though, was the creation of a population that assimiliated both its original and its newly adopted culture. 

The Spanish relied on two other institutions in addition to the mission for community building: the presidio (military fort) and villa (town).  Evidence of both can still be seen today, if you know where to look. 

The Presidio de Bexar (or military compound), founded on May 5, 1718, by Martín de Alarcón, the Governor of Coahuila and Texas, was intended to provide support and protection for Mission San Antonio de Valero. The building now known as Spanish Governor’s Palace, on the City’s Military Plaza or Plaza de Armas, originally served as the quarters for the presidio’s commandant. The level of the garrison fluctuated, home to anywhere from 7 to 80 men at different times in its existence. The fort took on added responsibility with the establishment of four more missions downstream. After 1772, the city served as the capital of Spanish Texas, with the garrison commander serving as governor. The site's importance declined after 1803 with the decision to quarter troops at former Mission Valero.

San Fernando Cathedral, on the City’s Main Plaza or Plaza de las Islas, was the church for the new civilian settlement established in 1731. Plaza de las Islas served as the center of the new community and the heart of the villa or town. Known as San Fernando de Béxar, the villa finally represented a viable civilian population in the area. Spanish officials, unable to recruit settlers from Mexico, promised residents of the Canary Islands land, titles, and other benefits in exchange for settling in Texas. Arriving on March 9, 1731, the party consisted of 15 families that numbered a total of 56 men, women, and children.

Mission, presidio, and civil town—these form the heart of old San Antonio. 

In recognition of the role that Mission San Antonio de Valero has played in the development of modern San Antonio, we have developed this tour. We now invite you to walk along the walls of the Mission and learn the stories that remain using this Alamo Plaza mobile guide complete with text and images provided by our partners interested in the preservation of this special place.