Friday, March 26, 2010

The Beautifully Restored Mission Concepcion the nearest national park to San Antonio. Carlsbad Caverns, you say? Wrong. What about Big Bend? Nope. It's the often-overlooked San Antonio Missions National Historical Park along the San Antonio River south of downtown.

Several years ago, the Archdiocese of San Antonio launched the Las Misiones campaign to raise funds for the restoration of the missions. (Even though they're a national park, some also function as working churches.) Their first project: to restore the deteriorating interior of Mission Concepcion.

They removed the paneling installed in 1859 and discovered the original frescoes underneath. After noting the original colors and artwork, they set about restoring those original frescoes. The volunteer docent told me the walls now look as they did on Dedication Day in 1755.

The work is beautiful and understated. There are a couple of spots along the top of the wall where the restorers left uncovered the original, faded frescoes, so you can get an idea of what they looked like.

The capital campaign kicks off just as the US Army Corps of Engineers begins work on the restoration of the San Antonio River's "Mission Reach" section, along which Concepcion is situated.

Besides the interior, the mission grounds are lovely and well worth a visit.

Note: the most direct route to the mission (from Southtown on St. Mary's, then on Mission Road) includes a detour (resulting from the Mission Reach work). Your most direct route is from Steves Ave.

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