About Old Mission Santa Barbara in Santa Barbara, California
Santa Barbara’s “Queen of the Missions” was dedicated on December 16, 1786 as the tenth of 21 California missions. This beautiful mission is the only one with two bell towers and is also unique for its stone facade, which was reportedly patterned after an ancient Latin temple in pre-Christian Rome. The design is traced to a book brought to California by the Franciscans, a Spanish reprint of an architecture book originally published in 27 BCE.
Protected like a queen bee in her hive are valuable documents archived at mission headquarters in Mission Santa Barbara. Scholars with access to the papers discover and report on the physical hardships and every day occurrences of the padres and native Chumash Indians who built several missions and lived and worked on the grounds or tended to the livestock and crops.
While farmers today are embattled over water rights in California, the mission handled such issues with a sophisticated and elaborate plan. Water from a creek located in the hills two miles above the mission was transported via a stone aqueduct, to storage tanks. Separate tanks held water for individualized needs, with a filtration system cleaning the particles that appeared naturally in the drinking water.
Right down to the tiniest details, visitors can see an accurate representation of what the mission looked like after it was built. While several earthquakes took their toll, the “Queen” was always treated well and today, she stands proudly as the most photographed building in Santa Barbara. Made up of eight rooms, cloister gardens, a chapel, cemetery and a beautiful fountain and courtyard, self guided tours allow you to wander at your own pace and explore. A gift shop sells religious items and educational materials on Santa Barbara and the California missions. Mission Santa Barbara is open seven days a week with a small fee charged for admission. It is located at the intersection of Laguna and Los Olivos Streets.
- 2201 Laguna St
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
- (805) 682-4713
- Visit website
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