Baja Travel Resource Guide presented by:
The Missions of Baja California
Listed herein are those still in use, still standing, or in a state of ruin still worth mentioning. It is not a list of all Missions founded along the peninsula from 1697-1834. Those listed are in geographical order from North to South. Also, below, are some other churches that I felt were worth mentioning (though they are not original from the Mission period).
Note: ** -- Indicates a "must-see," even if it's difficult to get there.
- Misi�n San Miguel Arc�ngel de la Frontera -- Dominican, founded in 1787, but the building of the Mission itself did not begin until 1788. Established in order to create a better junction between old and new California. Located next to La Misi�n primary school at Km. 65.5 on the Tijuana-Ensenada free road in La Misi�n (East of the toll-road).
- Misi�n San Vicente Ferr�r -- Dominican, founded in 1780. Adobe ruins. Located a few miles East of the highway down the arroyo North of town. There is an old Mission cemetery still being used, to the right on a small mesa that leads down towards the Mission site.
- Misi�n Santo Domingo de la Frontera -- Dominican, 1775. Moved to present site in 1782. Stone foundations, adobe ruins. Founded at the outlet of the Santo Domingo arroyo near the large red rock, the water supply dwindled, and the site was moved to the present ruins about five miles up the arroyo. The arroyo is just North of present day Colonia Guerrero.
- Misi�n San Fernando Rey de Espa�a de Velicat� -- Franciscan (the only one), 1769. Small adobe ruins. The Franciscans were on their way to "new" California, but built here to facilitate communication between new and old. Located 3 miles down the arroyo from Km. 114, near El Progresso.
- Misi�n Santa Mar�a de Los Angeles (Cabujakaamung) -- Jesuit, 1767. Adobe ruins, walls still standing. The last of the Jesuit-established sites. Author Walt Peterson termed this location "Mission Impossible," and so it is pretty much. The road is now blocked by a large landslide, and is thus not passable by 4-wheeled vehicles. Located 12 miles East of Rancho Santa In�s. | www Link: A Backpacking Trip |
- **Misi�n San Francisco de Borja Adac -- Jesuit, 1762. Adobe ruins. Stone church built in 1801 is immediately next to the adobe ruins, and is one of the best preserved of the Baja Missions. Can be reached from either the L.A. Bay highway, or Hwy. 1 (both about 22 miles away), but the road from Hwy. 1 at El Rosarito is much easier (and wider). From El Rosarito, head slightly North through town, then East.
- Misi�n Santa Gertrudis la Magna de Cadacam�n -- Jesuit, 1751. Small stone church and some foundations. One interesting feature this location had was a belfry placed a short distance from the church, as opposed to on the roof, which was generally the standard. Located 23 miles from El Arco.
- **Misi�n Nuestro Se�or San Ignacio de Kadakaam�n -- Jesuit, 1728. The present stone (volcanic, 4 feet thick) church was built in 1786. According to records, the Queen of Spain spent 1.5 million pesos in the construction of this church. Restored in 1976, but mostly in original condition. Located in the San Ignacio town square. Definitely one of the best Mission sites to see... and one of the easiest to get to.
- Misi�n Santa Rosal�a de Muleg� -- Jesuit, 1705. The present stone church was completed in the early 1770's after a flood wiped out most buildings in town., and was restored in the late 1970's. Located slightly West of the town of Muleg�, up the south side of the river.
- Misi�n San Jos� de Comond� -- Jesuit, 1708. The original site lies some 24 miles north of the present site, which itself is the former house of the missionary (with ruins in the adjacent plaza), built in 1737. Located 14 miles from the Cd. Insurgentes - La Pur�sima highway at Ejido Francisco Villa (which is 39 miles north from the intersection of Hwy. 1). Can also be reached by driving over the mountains from Km. 62 north of Loreto (or via some rough roads from Misi�n San Javier). These roads over the mountains are especially scenic.
- **Misi�n Nuestra Se�ora de Loreto Conch� -- Jesuit, 1697. Over the door it reads: "Head and mother of all the Missions of upper and lower California." Loreto was the first of the Missions founded in the Californias, and today is (after 1976 restoration) still in use in the middle of town. The present stone church was originally completed sometime between 1744-52.
- **Misi�n San Francisco Javier de Vigg�-Biaund� -- Jesuit, 1699. The original site was at Rancho Viejo (16.7 miles from Hwy. 1), but was moved to the present site in 1720 (another 6.4 miles). The present building was started in 1744, and took 14 years to complete. Made of stone, this church still remains practically the same as it was 200 years ago. The original robes of the Padres are on the premises here as well. The road to get here from Hwy. 1 is at Km. 118, a mile south of Loreto. Before 1994, it was a killer of a drive up the mountain, but the road has been improved *considerably* since then. If you want to see a Mission that has not had any major improvements, yet is still in great condition... one that makes you feel like you just stepped out of a time machine in the 1800's (okay, with new beer signs now visible, maybe early 1900's), San Javier is the place.
- Misi�n San Luis Gonzaga Chiriyaqui -- Jesuit, 1737. Present building was built in 1751, and has been slightly restored in the last 20 years. To quote author Tom�s Robertson: "After traveling thirty miles of unknown desert, to come suddenly upon the Mission... has to be one of the delightful experiences of a lifetime. Suddenly there appears a beautiful oasis, a narrow lagoon bordered with date and fan palms. On a little mesa beyond the lagoon stands the Mission, of bright rose-colored stone, with its two balancing towers. It forms part of a larger square of buildings of the same bright material." The better of two approaching roads to the site is from Km. 195, just south of Cd. Constituci�n (31 miles to the Mission).
Other churches (iglesias) worth mentioning:
- Catedral de Nuestra Se�ora de La Paz -- The original Mission in town was burned in the 1734 southern uprising, and finally abandoned in 1748 (at that time everyone was then moved to Misi�n Santa Rosa de Todos Santos). This "newer" church (located in the downtown La Paz z�calo) was built in 1861 (and renovated in 1940), and sits at a different site than the original.
- Iglesia San Jos� -- Located in Plaza Mijares in San Jos� del Cabo. This church, built in 1940, is on the site of the second (original) Mission that was built in San Jos� (1730's). The mosaic over the main entrance depicts a scene from the 1734 Peric� Indian uprising (incited by the Padre's ban on polygamy) of the Indians dragging Padre Nicol�s Tamaral toward a fire (where he was burned -- after they killed him though).
| Mission Museum, Loreto | Colonial Architecture in Baja California (worthwhile pictures) |
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Last revised: June 21, 2002
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