History of California Missions

By: Mark Lopes

As a person who loves the country, you are sure to be familiar with the twenty-one missions in California. They were established by the Spaniards in an attempt to strengthen their presence in the region.
A drive along I-101 in California would take you to the coastal highway which leads to the Kings Road. This was the travel route of the Spaniards in the region. The missions were built in such a way that each one was just a day’s drive from the other. They were built using the materials easily available in the region. For this reason, most of them succumbed to the pangs of the weather. However, the remains are kept there for generations to come. Some of them are even built anew.
History of California Missions
The 16th century was known as a time of explorations. Europe was brimming with the excitement of renaissance. They wanted to know what lay beyond the oceans they knew.
Trade relations already existed between Asia and Europe. But, the journey to the continent and back to their native places were fraught with dangers. Besides, a single voyage took several months to complete. For these reason, the Europeans decided to find out safer and easier routes for trade and development. This they believed was possible only by expanding their influence to other regions.
Spanish adventures
At that time, Spaniards were known to be the most adventurous among the seafarers in Europe. They had managed to discover America. The King of Spain wanted to see if an expansion would be possible along that route. Spain also wanted to find safer routes to its trade partners in Asia.
Hernan Cortez, one among the renowned explorers of Spain had sailed from the Caribbean Sea and had come to the Central America. He and his men had conquered a large tribe there who lived in the region now known as Mexico. They named it “New Spain” and decided to explore further with a view to expand their country. This task was given to Juan Cabrillo one among the members in his army.
He began sailing through the Pacific Ocean and found many harbors in California. However, he died due to injuries he received while on the sail. By this time, Spaniards had established numerous colonies in the region.
The missions
After almost sixty years, the King of Spain tried again and sent one among his reliable men into the area. His attempts too failed miserably. However, the information that Russia had come to the land became a cause of concern for the Spaniards. They had already known how to win over people to their sides with their overtaking of Mexico. And, they established missions. These helped them to convert the residents to Christianity and made them fighters for the King.
The architecture
The architecture of the missions at that time was designed in such a way as to fulfill the following purposes.
• To stay safe from enemies within the region
• To ensure protection from harsh climate
• To protect the residents from wild animals

It was through a long period of innovation and adaptation that all these things were possible. At present, the influence of the Spaniards, especially their attempts to suppress the native religion is being questioned. However, California Missions are still preserved to tell the story of the tribes who fought and died during a tough time of colonization.

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If you need more info about Missions history visit Old Mission Museum at Oceanside, CA or just click on this link and schedule a quick museum tour.

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