Santa Barbara Mission

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2201 Laguna St, Santa Barbara, CA, USA

Santa Barbara Mission Reviews

pretty_girl pretty_g…
196 reviews
historic gem Mar 21, 2014
Founded in 1786, its purpose was to convert the native Chumash Indians into Christians. We did the self-guided tour and for a small fee of $5 was truly worth it. It started with the beautiful courtyard called the Sacred Garden with a fountain in the middle amid towering palm trees and a well maintained landscape of roses and cacti. This was the Native Americans’ work area for learning trades. The adjacent buildings were their workshops.

Through a maze of newer buildings and a couple of outdoor exhibits, the path ended at the Mission cemetary. More than 4,000 Chumash Indians were buried here. The giant fig tree in the center the Mission’s church – its main attraction. The altar is absolutely stunning and very colorful. The canvas backdrop behind the altar almost looked three-dimensional and imitated the church’s facade of columns and intricate designs.

The exhibits gave us a sense of what life was like for the priests and the Indians. It was a fascinating glimpse into this part of history. If you’re ever in the area, definitely recommend a visit to one of California’s historic gems.

Free parking
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williamsworld williams…
275 reviews
The Queen of Missions Dec 14, 2010
The Santa Barbara Mission is like no other. Located in the heart of Santa Barbara, the stunning grassy lawn & rose garden first greets you! It can be very crowded, especially on the week-ends & summer time. The cemetery is spectacular! All the artifacts are just amazing. Every May, on the front of the Mission there is an annual chalk drawing festival, called the I Madonnari Festival that everyone should visit. Parking is plentiful, and once you pay the admission fee, you can walk around all you like. There is lots to see and lots to learn. There are tour guides available to answer all of your questions. The church alone may be visited for free and is still used for worship. The mission was conceived by Father Serra as a Greek temple, but the addition of bell towers on either side camouflages the look. Inside, the church is Roman in design. The compound consists of a very beautiful garden. If you like to take garden pictures, or plant pictures, you would enjoy this. The museum has some fine quality artifacts that would not be out of place in a European museum, statuary and paintings. My favorite place is the cemetery. It's so nice and relaxing and you really feel like you've been back in time. The large lawn and rose garden, a wonderfully mossy fountain with water lilies, and a cool lavanderia, a giant stone trough for doing the laundry, with carvings by 19th century Chumash Indians. Perhaps the oldest piece of public sculpture in CA is a lion’s head decorating the water spout. There are clean restrooms, handicapped accessible. There is a nice gift shop focusing on religious books, nativity items, etc. The tour through the museum and complex gives the visitor an idea of early Spanish colonization in CA, and the economic system of the missions. An hour is plenty of time to tour this. So great. If you're in SB, make sure to visit!
the plague of the mission
from the lawn
really beautiful
5 / 5 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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williamsworld says:
It is great. I want to visit all of them one summer. I will keep you updated. Thanks
Posted on: Dec 24, 2010
montecarlostar says:
I'd love to visit this place!!
Posted on: Dec 23, 2010
Andy99 Andy99
579 reviews
Mission Santa Barbara, Virgen y Martir Jun 24, 1987
Mission Santa Barbara was founded on December 4, 1786 (the Feast of St. Barbara) as the tenth of California's twenty-one Spanish colonial missions. As were all of the missions, Santa Barbara was founded to extend Spanish colonization along the Pacific coast and to educate and Christianize the Native American tribes of California.

The impressive church one sees today is the fourth constructed at the mission. It was begun in 1815 and completed in 1820. It is unique in several ways. Santa Barbara is the only California mission church with two towers. Its classical facade, attributed to Mexican master stonemason Jose Ramierez, was based on designs in Vetruvius' book of Roman Architecture. (How that book was known in that time and place is not explained.) The result is one of the most beautiful mission churches and the best preserved. Santa Barbara is known as the "Queen of the Missions" for its exceptional design. It is different from the "Mission Style" of the other mission churches.

Visitors can see the museum displays on the culture and art of the Chumash people (carvings, basketry, and seagoing redwood canoes), of the work and agricultural products and industry of the mission, and typical quarters. (At the high point in 1803, there were 1,792 Native Americans resident on the grounds.)

Touring the grounds, one can visit the church with its colonial era artwork from Mexico and wooden statuary made by the Chumash. Although the mission was secularized along with the others following Mexican independence, services continued to be held in the sanctuary. (Santa Barbra was never abandoned as were many of the other missions.)

The mission cemetery is entered from a side door in the church. Traditional skull and crossbones carvings above the doorway mark it as a place of burial. There, you learn about Juana Maria, a Native American known as the Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island. She lived alone on the island from 1835 to 1853. (She was left behind when the island was evacuated following an encounter with Russians and Aleuts.) Her story was the basis for the book Island of the Blue Dolphins. She is buried in the Mission Santa Barbara cemetery.


There are two Moorish style fountains on the grounds, one in the garden courtyard and a larger one, dating from 1808, at the entrance. The latter was part of an aqueduct system constructed by the Chumash leading from a dam above the mission.

A visit to Mission Santa Barbara is a must! A self-guided tour leaflet will guide you around the grounds.

Admission in 2011 is $5.
Mission Santa Barbara (1820)
Altar at Mission Santa Barbara
Garden courtyard and fountain at M…
Doorway to the Mission Santa Barba…
4 / 4 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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williamsworld says:
couldn't have said it better myself
Posted on: Jul 26, 2011

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