Mission Espada

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San Antonio, TX
United States
Mission Espada

The most rural of the missions and the furthest from downtown, Espada was established in 1690 near present-day Augusta, and relocated to San Antonio in 1731. Mission Espada is the only mission located on the west side of the San Antonio River, and, at 558 feet from the bank, is the closest to the modern-day river course. The mission complex includes a church, convento (convent), ruins of other historic structures, and perimeter masonry walls, and connects to more than 100 acres of labores (fields) and an acequia (irrigation system), still in use by neighboring farms today. The 5.6-mile-long irrigation system terminates several miles north of the mission grounds at the Mission Espada dam.

On the west side of the property, adjacent to the church and convento, is a garden, planted with trees and colorful perennials. To the south, ruins of the granary, living quarters, and a late-colonial church remain as low stone walls among a grassy field. Underground archaeological evidence of indigenous living quarters as well as significant midden deposits were discovered at the southern area of the site. The stone ruins of Rancho de las Cabras, located some 30 miles southeast of the mission grounds, have been identified as the ranch that supported the mission and are included as part of the National Park. Mission Espada was individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, and is a contributing feature of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, listed in 1978. The four San Antonio Missions, along with the Alamo, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015.