San Gabriel Mission Church

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428 South Mission Drive, San Gabriel, CA, USA

San Gabriel Mission Church Reviews

Andy99 Andy99
621 reviews
Mission San Gabriel Arcangel Jun 16, 2013
Mission San Gabriel Arcangel was founded in 1771 by the Franciscans as the fourth of the twenty-one California missions. It is one of the best preserved and most interesting to visit of the mission sites.

The mission was relocated to is present site, now in the center of the city of San Gabriel, in 1775. The mission church, built of cut stone, brick and mortar, was begun in 1791 and completed in 1805. The striking church was designed by Padre Antonio Cruzado who was from Córdoba, Spain. The exterior wall church with its capped buttresses is similar in appearance to the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos in Córdoba and probably influenced the design. Its fortress-like appearance is unique among the California Missions. The church interior contains many surprises, too. The stunning wooden altar, carved in Mexico and brought to San Gabriel in the 1790s, reminds me of altars seen in Europe. So too is the decorated Baptistry. The ceiling looks almost Roman with its fish designs. The bronze baptismal font was a gift to Mission San Gabriel from Carlos III of Spain. The nave is 181 feet (55 m.)long with walls four feet thick. The ceiling is decorated in traditional mission timbering, last rebuilt in 1886. (Earthquakes of 1804 and 1812 damaged the original vaulted ceiling.) The 1812 earthquake toppled the bell tower. In its place, a campanario or bell wall, was built next to the exterior wall. It's a beautiful sight itself! One need only go a few miles eat of Los Angeles to be transported into this well-preserved structure of Colonial California.

Other parts of the mission complex are more traditional in design. A quadrangle contained workshops, the priests quarters, sacristy, and kitchen. The Old Cemetery began in 1778. Priests who served at the mission and the Tongva Indians who worked at the mission are buried here.

The missions were secularized after Mexican independence, but were returned to the Catholic church by the United States in the 1860s. In 1908 the Claretian Order assumed operation of the mission. Mission San Gabriel remains an active parish today. (Most services are held in a new church adjoining the mission.) Mission San Gabriel lends its name to the city of San Gabriel and the San Gabriel Valley.

Visitors can follow a self-guided tour of the mission grounds. Points of interest are well marked and interpreted. In addition to the mission church itself, a highlight is the museum in the Franciscan's former quarters. The mission library is an astounding collection of 16th, 17th and 18th century imprints. How did all these books find their way to frontier California? (They really need a better climate-controlled environment for them.)

Having visited several of the missions, I found Mission San Gabriel a delightful discovery. It must be the most overlooked historical site in Greater Los Angeles.

Admission and self-guided tour is $5. Photography is permitted.
Mission San Gabriel Arcangel
Mission San Gabriel. Canpanario or…
Mission San Gabriel. Original main…
Mission San Gabriel. Baptistry.
8 / 8 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
reikunboy says:
Interesting review Andy
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013
rsvpme says:
This has feature written all over....great photography !
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013
Andy99 says:
A constant temperature and humidity is the best environment. But it was nice to view the books on display.
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013
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portia portia
216 reviews
Aug 05, 2007
One of 21 missions in California built by the Spanish missionaries between 1769 and 1823. This one was the 4th one, built in 1771. The missions of California were the first permanent settlements by the Europeans to colonize this area, it seems all school children in California study the missions and build models. The missions were built along the route called El Camino Real (the King's highway) which linked the missions with about 1 day's ride so they can easily travel up and down the route. The first library and vineyards in California were located in missions! Most missions have similar design in that they are usually built around a quadrangle and a large plaza, the church, living space for the missionaries called the convento, offices, and dormitories for the neophytes (native Indians), workshops (carpentry, blacksmith, other manufacturing). The structures of the missions are beautiful, and are frequent topics of photography.

The San Gabriel Mission is located in San Gabriel, a little east of downtown Los Angels. The mission museum is in an adobe building built in 1812 which has a series of rooms: weaving, carpenter shop, and sleeping quarters for the mission priests. Artifacts and displays are there to show the mission life back in those days.

On the grounds of the mission are some old grape vines, the biggest of which has a trunk about 3 feet across, really impressive! Grape vines cover the trellises and provide welcome shade on a hot day. (San Gabriel is in the San Gabriel Valley, and can get really hot in the summer!) Maybe because of the heat, there are many large cacti here which are the largest I have seen!

Also on the grounds is a large crucifix is a memorial to the 6000 Indians buried here! There are many tombs and tombstones in the cemetery. You will also find remains of the aqueduct, cisterns for soup and candle making, tannery vats.

So if you find yourself somewhere around Los Angeles, you can get a little history at the San Gabriel Mission.
Exterior of the San Gabriel Missio…
Fountain in mission garden and a v…
another view in the mission garden…
The huge grapevine to the right of…
portia says:
ha ha, that's why it helps to play tourist in your home town!
Posted on: Dec 16, 2008

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