San Antonio Missions #3 – The Alamo

Jun 28

San Antonio Missions #3 – The Alamo

We’re visiting the five missions near San Antonio. If you’d like to read about our other visits, you can read about Mission San Jose and Mission Concepcion. You can also view our pictures from our trip in our Alamo and Downtown DropBox album.

Most of us know the cry, “Remember the Alamo!” but do we know why we should? I don’t remember learning much, if anything, about the war between Texas and Mexico while in school. I knew Texas had been its own country for a short time – about 11 years – before being annexed into the United States as the 28th state, then it was part of the Confederacy during the Civil War. But I didn’t really understand the history surrounding the site or the battle until I visited.

The Alamo’s original name San Antonio de Valero. It was begun in 1718 as a mission, the same as the other four missions near San Antonio. However, it was closed in 1793 due to lack of funding. It stood empty for several years until it was procured as a military post for the Mexican army. In 1835 Mexico lost the Alamo to the Texan army, who held it until the Battle of the Alamo in March of 1836. It was abandoned again until the U.S. Army used it in 1849, then the Confederate army during the Civil War. In the early 1900s the Daughters of the Republic of Texas was granted control of the Alamo and restorations began in 1912. The Alamo is still under the control of the DRT. The other missions in the area are under the National Park System.

Admission to the Alamo is free, but they do offer guided tours or recorded tours for a fee. They also take your photo when you go inside and you can buy that photo in the gift shop area.

The main building of the Alamo is called the Shrine to Texas Freedom. The limestone walls are protected and the docents will tell you not to touch the walls or any of the items on display. The area is a lot more crowded than the other missions, so be prepared to stand and wait for a while to see the displays.

After we visited the shrine, we headed to the long barrack to see the film. The History Channel did the film and it was a very good, brief history of the Alamo first as a mission then the scene from the epic battle for Texas freedom. Even though Texas wasn’t officially recognized by Mexico as a free country for another 10 years, it was the battle at the Alamo that kept others fighting for independence. The video is a quick 20 minutes, then you get to visit the rest of the museum. No photography is allowed in the museum.

The museum section of the long barrack was laid out chronologically and shared the history of the site and the city. Several artifacts have been donated to the museum, including weapons, pottery shards and shrapnel found in the area. I most liked Davy Crockett’s items and the quotes attributed to him, such as, “You may go to hell, and I’ll go to Texas.”

The grounds of the Alamo were beautiful. Large trees provided a lot of shade for the hot day and there were plenty of benches nearby. The shadiest spot was near the DTR library in the far corner of the property near a fountain. The paths were wide and easy to walk, so if you have a stroller or were in wheelchair you could navigate them with no problems.

The Alamo is open until 7:00 p.m., so there was plenty of time to roam the grounds.

I loved learning the history of the area and seeing the site, especially when lit at night (number 27 done on our San Antonio bucket list!), but it is one of the most crowded attractions in downtown San Antonio.

Have you visited the Alamo? Let me know in the comments or get in touch on Facebook or Twitter.


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