The Spanish missions in California comprise a series of 21 religious outposts omissions established between 1769 and 1833 in California. Founded by Catholic priests of the Franciscan order to evangelize the Native Americans, the missions led to the creation of the New Spain province of Alta California and were part of the expansion of the Spanish Empire into the most northern and western parts of Spanish North America.

The surviving mission buildings are the state’s oldest structures, and its most-visited historic monuments. The oldest cities of California formed around or near Spanish missions, including the four largest: Los AngelesSan DiegoSan Jose, and San Francisco.


El Camino Real followed two alternate routes, established by the first two Spanish exploratory expeditions of the region. The first was the Portolá Expedition of 1769. Portolá journeyed again from San Diego to Monterey in 1770, where Junipero Serra (who traveled by ship) founded the second mission. Click here to view the Portola Expedition.

The second Juan Bautista de Anza expedition (1775–76), entering Alta California from the southeast, picked up Portolá’s trail at Mission San Gabriel. De Anza’s scouts found easier traveling in several inland valleys, rather than staying on the rugged coast. Click here to view the Anza Expedition

This became the preferred route.To facilitate overland travel, mission settlements were approximately 30 miles apart, so that they were separated by one long day’s ride on horseback along the 600-mile long El Camino Real.




Catholic missions were installed throughout the Americas in an effort to establish European order in the pursuit of resources. The missionaries’ goal was to convert natives to Christianity and ease the transition into a colonial system and minimize the friction. One symbolic example of this was the practice of constructing churches and cathedral. Establishment of missions was often followed by the implementation of Encomienda systems.
For a list of additional Spanish Missions click here. This list contains the names and locations of missions lost to time, destroyed, and or being re-discovered through concerted archaeological efforts. 


Mission San Ignacio Miní (1632)
Mission Nuestra Señora de Santa Ana (1637)
Mission Nuestra Señora de Loreto (1610)
Mission Santa María la Major (1626)
Jesuit Block and Estancias of Córdoba (1615)


Mission São Miguel das Missões (São Miguel Arcanjo) (1687)


Mission San Pedro y San Pablo del Tubutama
Franciscan Missions in the Sierra Gorda of Querétaro
Monasteries on the slopes of Popocatépetl
Santiago Mission del Jalpan
San Miguel Concá
San Francisco del Valle de Tilaco
Santa María del Agua de Landa

Mexico – Baja California:

Misión El Descanso
Misión San Miguel Arcángel de la Frontera
Misión San Vicente Ferrer
Misión Santa Rosalía de Mulegé
Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó


Mission Jesus de Tavarangué (1685)
Mission La Santisima Trinidad de Paraná (1706)

United States – Arizona:

Mission San Bernardo de Aguatubi (site of)
Mission San José de Tumacácori
Mission Los Santos Ángeles de Guevavi
Mission San Xavier del Bac
Mission San Cayetano de Calabasas

United States – Florida:

San Damián de Cupaica
Santa Fé de Toloca/Teleco/Toloco
San Francisco de Potano
San Joseph de Ocuya
San Juan De Aspalaga
San Juan del Puerto
San Luis de Apalachee
San Miguel de Asile
Nombre de Dios
San Pedro y San Pablo de Patale

United States – New Mexico:

Mission Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles de Porciúncula de los Pecos
Mission San Agustín de la Isleta
Mission San Esteban del Rey de Acoma
Mission San Lorenzo de Picurís
San Francisco de Asis Mission
San Miguel Mission
Mission La Purisima Concepcíón de Hawikuh
Mission Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe de Zuni

United States – Texas:

Mission San Francisco de la Espada
Mission Santísimo Nombre de María
Mission San Juan Capistrano
Mission San Antonio de Valero (The Alamo)
Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo
Mission Nuestra Señora del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga