San Antonio, Texas is the seventh-most populous city in the USA and home to 1.5 million people. It’s primarily associated with the Alamo, which is the site of a ferocious battle that took place in 1836. The inhabitants, of what is now the largest US state in terms of land area, revolted due to the increased centralization of the Mexican government. The Battle of the Alamo was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution, which led to Texas becoming a short-lived republic before its incorporation into the United States. It had previously been under Mexican control.
Although the location of the battle is the city’s primary draw, there are many more attractions to see in San Antonio. Here are the top 10 places to visit in the city:
This is the very first modern art museum to open in Texas. Established in 1954, the McNay Art Museum houses more than 20,000 works of art that range in age from Medieval to 21st-Century. There’s also an amazing collection of Southwest prints and drawings for you to take in. When you get tired of marveling at all the exhibits, be sure to take a stroll through the museum’s gardens, where you’ll find fountains, statues and even a koi pond.
The museum was made possible after an Ohio-born heiress named Marion McNay bequeathed her 24-room mansion to the City of San Antonio. In addition to leaving 700 works of modern art of her own to the city, she also left an endowment that was to be used to establish the museum you see today.
If you can’t make it to the Serengeti, then this is undoubtedly the next best thing. The Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch is home to approximately 500 animals from 40 different species. You can travel through the ranch by car, and feed the animals that you see along the way. Some of the magnificent creatures you can expect to see on this ranch include ostriches, zebras and kudu, among many others.
After you’re done traveling about on the ranch in a car, there’s also a walkabout that you can enjoy, which allows you to get up close with other animals such as lemurs and giraffes. If you happen to have young children with you, there’s also a petting zoo that they can enjoy and be safe in.
This mission was founded all the way back in 1731, and is now part of the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. More than 100 years after its founding, the mission was the site for the Battle of Concepción, which took place in 1835. It was one of many skirmishes that occurred during the Texas Revolution between insurgents and Mexican troops, and it was the first one of real significance.
The Mission Concepción church is the oldest unrestored stone church in the United States, and is still an active Catholic parish. Sunday mass has been celebrated here uninterrupted for almost 300 years.
Although the Natural Bridge Caverns themselves are ancient, they were only discovered relatively recently. Back in 1960, four college students from St. Mary’s University were given permission to explore an area underneath a 60-foot limestone bridge. This exploration led to the caverns’ discovery.
They boast spectacular geological formations, which include stalactites, stalagmites and flowstones. There are numerous tours you can avail yourself of, and you can choose which one to go on depending on how much geology interests you, your walking abilities, and how comfortable you are walking through underground caves.
When walking through this square, you’ll be forgiven for thinking that you’ve left San Antonio and somehow ended up in Mexico. All of the stores and restaurants you’ll find within it are locally-owned, making it the perfect place to shop for an inexpensive souvenir or sample authentic Mexican food. In fact, it’s often called the largest Mexican market outside Mexico.
Furthermore, San Antonio Market Square was named one of the top ten outdoor markets in the whole of the US by Frommer’s (a travel guidebook), and also hosts numerous Hispanic festivals and performances throughout the year.
Construction on this beautiful cathedral began in 1738. It took 15 years to complete, and is of the oldest extant cathedrals in the present-day United States. It is also known as the Church of Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria y Guadulupe (The Cathedral of Our Lady of Candelaria and Guadalupe).
The cathedral is said to house a tomb containing the remains of men who died defending the Alamo, but this claim is disputed by historians. Nevertheless, the cathedral is still active, and mass is held in both English and Spanish throughout the week.
Mission San Jose is the largest mission that is part of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. It was founded back in 1720, and is sometimes referred to as the Queen of the Missions. During its heyday, the mission hosted up to 350 Indian neophytes (indigenous American peoples that were newly-baptized and converted to Christianity) at a time.
A particular highlight of this mission is the ornate Rose Window, which is considered to be one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in the United States. Catholic mass is held at this beautiful old church every Sunday.
2. River Walk
Go down to the water and enjoy a nice stroll, a little shopping or a bite to eat alongside the San Antonio River, which runs straight through the middle of the city’s downtown area. You can also take to the water on one of the many pleasure boats that line its banks.
The River Walk is also renowned for hosting great events, such as artisan shows, boat parades and races. Although it’s a great place to visit at any time of year, the River Walk is particularly enchanting during Christmas and New Year thanks to millions of twinkling lights.
“Remember the Alamo!” cried 19th Century Texans as they rallied to win independence from Mexico during the Texas Revolution. This battle cry also served as a reminder of the events of March 1836. During that month, thousands of Mexican forces under General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna stormed the Alamo, a Roman Catholic mission and fortress compound, and killed all of the insurgents inside. The Texan insurgents had held the compound for a full 13 days before it fell despite being hopelessly outnumbered.
The Texans soon got their revenge, however, beating General Santa Anna in April 1836. Santa Anna was released after signing a treaty recognizing Texas’ independence in exchange for his freedom. The Alamo is now one of the most visited sites in Texas.
Content source: Touropia