With the fresh start of a new month, it can be an exciting time to pick up a new hobby, fulfill a goal or try something new. Perhaps you want to travel more and learn from different cultures. If you’re wondering how to start your new year or even new month on a high note, San Antonio has your answer. Here’s how the Alamo City brings new life to decades of rich history, with an interesting connection to Europe.
Visiting the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in SA
San Antonio is home the largest concentration of Spanish colonial missions in North America. Named the first World Heritage Site in Texas by the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO), San Antonio Missions National Historical Park encompasses the city’s four southernmost missions – Concepción, San José, San Juan and Espada.
From centuries of history to the active community that surrounds it today, it’s no surprise that the historical park and missions are estimated to bring over one million visitors a year. All four mission churches still function as active Catholic parishes that hold regular services, making it a destination site for not only culture, history and education but also deep faith.
Start a Pilgrimage in the Alamo City
The Archdiocese of San Antonio has been looking for ways to accommodate visitors of all backgrounds who are looking for the ultimate educational and faith-driven experience. The solution? El Camino de San Antonio Missions pilgrimage center, a new cultural and spiritual hub, hopes to bring new life to these historic sites by linking the four missions — and the oldest functioning Cathedral in Texas — to each other while also serving as a starting point for your next pilgrimage.
Starting this year, the center will allow visitors to learn more about the Franciscans who helped establish these missions through interactive technology before or after embarking on their own journey. As for its international connection, El Camino de San Antonio Missions is in partnership with Spain’s El Camino de Santiago de Compostela; making it the only site outside of Europe where you begin this pilgrimage.
Visitors can collect stamps from each site and receive credit toward both routes on their pilgrimage passport. This passport serves as an official document used to obtain your Camino Compostela or Camino Certificate, which is given once pilgrims prove they have either walked 100 kilometers or cycled 200 kilometers to Santiago de Compostela.
Getting around on your new journey in 2024
Exploring the San Antonio Mission Trail has never been easier with recreational pathways, pedestrian bridges, and pavilions located along the Mission Reach portion of the River Walk.
The eight-mile stretch connects the entire San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, allowing visitors to access all four sites by foot, rideshare, hiking or biking. The remaining route spans over 12 miles and includes the world-famous Alamo. The new Padre Margil Pilgrimage Center also boasts a café offering a variety of sandwiches, salads, and wraps to enjoy before, during, or after your pilgrimage journey. If that’s not enough, take full advantage of the surrounding food options and neighborhood-favorite activities in San Antonio’s Southside.