Friday, June 12, 2009
San Antonio, Texas - Part Five
San Antonio's most famous landmark, of course, is the Alamo. The scene of an epic battle in 1836, the old mission actually has a long and multi-cultural history.
Authorized in 1716, the mission of San Antonio de Valero (today's Alamo) slowly became a reality over the next three decades. The present site was selected in 1724 and the cornerstone of the current structure was laid in 1744.
The oldest of five missions built to serve the Native American population of the San Antonio area, Mission San Antonio de Valero was the center of a large an active community. The friars provided religious instruction to their converts, but also supervised large farming operations and other aspects of community life.
After nearly 50 years of service, the old mission was abandoned by the Church in 1793. Ten years later it was occupied by the Spanish military. Among the units assigned there was the Second Flying Company of Alamo de Parras and many believe it was from this company that the name "Alamo" originated. Others believe it was adapted from the Spanish name for a grove of cottonwood trees that grew near the old structure.
In 1835 the converted mission was occupied by revolutionary forces from Texas and in 1836, of course, it was the scene of the monumental 13-day Battle of the Alamo when General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna attacked the small garrison there.
Today, the Alamo is the centerpiece of San Antonio and one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world. To learn more about San Antonio and the Alamo, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/sanantonio.