San Antonio Population- 1,144,646    Altitude- 512

San Antonio's downtown Water Garden.San Antonio's downtown Water Garden.


San Antonio was christened by Franciscan Father Damien Massanet on June 13, 1691 for the Native American "Indian" village site in a pleasant wooded area of spring-fed streams at the southern edge of the Texas Hill Country.  He named the site and the river for the Feast Day of Saint Anthony of Padova (who is still entombed in a magnificent Basilica in Padova, Italy). In 1718 Spain established The Mission San Antonio de Valero (later called the Alamo). A customary accompanying presidio (fort), San Antonio de Bexar (Bay-er), protected mission endeavors. Today's city and county names derive from those 18th- Century Spanish beginnings that predate founding of the United States by more than half a century.

Several other Spanish missions soon followed, but the city's real growth dates from establishment of a villa (civil settlement) in 1731, Spain's first step to colonize Texas. Original colonists were Spanish Canary Islanders, to whom many Texas families proudly trace their roots. San Antonio remained the chief Spanish, then Mexican stronghold in Texas until the Texas Revolution.

Among many nationalities, German builders and businessmen were prominent settlers in the 19th Century. Today, San Antonio is colorfully accented by its multicultural heritage.

Institutions of higher learning include Incarnate Word College, Our Lady of the Lake Univ., St. Mary's Univ., National Univ. of Mexico, Trinity Univ., Wayland Baptist University, San Antonio College, Palo Alto College, St. Philips College, Univ. of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and the Univ. of Texas at San Antonio.

Art museums and theaters are among the state's finest; its symphony orchestra rates with the nation's best, and San Antonians' love for fiestas is unsurpassed!

Some of those popular events include the Great Country River Festival in Sept., the Holiday River Festival in Dec., the Texas Folklife Festival in Aug., the San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo in mid-Feb., and at Easter the Starving Artists Show held at La Villita and along the River Walk.

Fiesta San Antonio spans 10 days the third and fourth weeks of Apr. This major event includes art exhibitions, coronation of King Antonio, Pilgrimage to the Alamo, concerts, band festivals, Battle of Flowers Parade, King's River Parade, Fiesta Night Parade, flower and fashion shows, musical productions, balls and street dancing, fireworks, and the fabulous series of "Nights in Old San Antonio."

For literature and details about city attractions and events, and for a schedule of the San Antonio Streetcars--an inexpensive, fun way to get to many of the city's downtown attractions.

Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center, built as part of 1968 HemisFair, features 241,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, banquet halls, meeting rooms, and international conference center; arena for sporting and entertainment, and theatre for the performing arts. "The Confluence of Civilizations" mural on facade of theater is by Juan O'Gorman of Mexico. With extension of San Antonio River actually flowing into heart of the center, river boats provide an unusual means for convention delegates to travel from riverside hotels to meetings.

Alamo Museum - D.R.T. Library

Located on grounds that surround the Alamo. On view are relics of famous Battle of the Alamo, and other artifacts associated with days of early colonization and Republic of Texas period. Open Mon. - Sat. 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Alamo Cenotaph -

Dominating the plaza in front of the Alamo, the monument was designed by Pompeo Coppini, eminent Italian-born sculptor who adopted Texas as his home. Names of those who died at the Alamo are inscribed in marble.

Buckhorn Hall of Horns

Formerly downtown, the vintage Buckhorn Saloon developed one of world's finest collections of animal horns. Today the old saloon's famous horn and mounted animal collection is displayed  along with comparable Hall of Fins, Hall of Feathers, a collection devoted to famous marksman Ad Topperwein, and a superb aggregation of antique and custom firearms. Hall of Texas History wax museum recalls Texas history events from Cabeza de Vaca to Teddy Roosevelt. Also preserved is house in which O. Henry lived while he published "The Rolling Stone" newspaper in San Antonio. The Buckhorn Saloon & Museum is open daily , 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. 318 East Houston Street

the River Walk

the Wolrd famous River WalkSan Antonio's world famous River Walk.

One level below the busy streets of downtown is san antonio's premier visitor experience! Meanders several miles through midtown beneath giant cypress trees and palms, accented by tropical foliage and flowering shrubs. Edged by hotels, cafes, restaurants, shops, and cabarets.

Botanical Gardens

33 acres of formal gardens, pools, fountains, and natural areas; Native Texas Area, South Central Xeriscape,Endangered Species Project, Formal Gardens, Biblical Garden, Garden for the Blind, Japanese Garden, and Children's Garden. (All walkways accommodate handicapped.)

Also featured are several Texas houses, reconstructed on the site to help illustrate and interpret the regional theme of the Native Texas Area.

Included is the Lucile Halsell Conservatory, a 90,000-square-foot complex of below-ground greenhouses that use the earth's insulation to limit plant exposure to the elements. Only the pyramidal glass roofs are visible from above ground. Sixteen feet below ground several different ecosystems surround a courtyard and pond.

Gardens are open Tues. - Sun. and holidays 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. at 555 Funston (just north of Fort Sam Houston). Admission.

Cowboy Museum and Gallery

Full-size re-creation of an 1870s false-front trail town built from salvaged materials includes Bella Union Saloon, general store, jail, and cavalry fort. Exhibits recall days of cowboys and Indians, gunfights, trail drivers, cattle barons, and gunfights. Western art gallery. Open daily, 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. 209 Alamo Plaza. Admission.

Carver Cultural Center

Center traces its historic roots back some 85 years. Facility is both a gallery for contemporary art exhibits and a theater for performing artists. 226 N. Hackberry. 210/225-6516

Institute of Texan Cultures

Here's history not concerned with dry events, but with the people who accomplished them--people who created the robust kaleidoscope that is Texas today. Twenty-six ethnic and cultural groups featured in a rich variety of exhibits--where they came from and what they did, their food and clothing, their music and festivals. Don't miss the multimedia show four times daily in the Institute's central dome. It's a great place to discover the roots of Texas; open Tues. - Sat., 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. and noon - 5 p.m. Sunday. HemisFair Park.

Missions of San Antonio

In addition to the Alamo, four other San Antonio missions were established by Franciscan friars in the early 18th Century. A map for the "Mission Trail" driving route (signed on city streets) is available from the Visitor Information Center. El Dia de las Misiones (The Day of the Missions) is a colorful, annual salute to these historic structures on the first Sun. in Aug. All missions are open daily 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. Apr. - Sept.; 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Oct. - Mar.

Mission Nuestra Senora de la Purisima Concepcion--Established in 1731, more than 20 years under construction. Massive church with twin towers and cupola is oldest unrestored stone church in U.S., standing as completed in 1755. Adjacent cloister arcade is partly restored. Church acoustics are equated with the Mormon Tabernacle. 807 Mission Rd.

Mission San Francisco de la Espada--Also established 1731, favorite of many students of Spanish period in Texas, and popular with photographers. The little church building, restored several times, is still in use. Ruins of walls that once surrounded the mission compound; foundations of a granary; baluarte, or fortified tower, can still be seen. Espada Rd. south. Near the mission is an aqueduct over Piedra Creek, part of mission's irrigation system built in 1740s. System includes dam on San Antonio River and acequia (irrigation ditch) still in use after more than 200 years. The aqueduct is a NationalHistoric Landmark.

Mission San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo--Known as the "Queen of Missions," is both a State and National Historic Site. Founded 1720; church built between 1768-82. Entire mission compound has been restored, including outer wall with Indian dwellings, granary and workshops. Old flour mill outside north wall was built about 1790, first in Texas. Visitors are fascinated by rich facade of domed church, and by sculptured exterior of sacristy window known as "the Rose Window," or "Rosa's Window." In granary is model of mission as it looked in late 1700s. 6539 San Jose Dr. at Mission Rd.

Mission San Juan Capistrano--Like both Espada and Concepcion, established 1731. Extensive restoration work has been carried out. Besides charming little chapel with open bell tower, there are ruins of a larger church that was never completed. Restored missionary residence displays artifacts from Spanish colonial period. Church still serves community of Berg's Mill, now part of city. Graf Rd. off Mission Rd.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Depicts a scene from the Battle for Hill 881 South--a radio man calling for help for a wounded comrade. At corner of E. Martin and Jefferson Sts. in front of Municipal Auditorium.

The Alamo

Mission San Antonio de Valero, later to become famous as the Alamo, was established in 1718, the first of five Spanish missions founded in San Antonio to Christianize and educate resident Indians. As the mission grew, the church structure that stands today in midtown was begun about 1755. Its mission role completed, the old buildings were abandoned by 1836 when the site, by then known as the Alamo, became the "Cradle of Texas Liberty." Rebelling against repressions of Mexico's self-proclaimed dictator, Santa Anna, a band of 189 Texas volunteers defied a Mexican army of thousands for 13 days of siege (Feb. 23 to Mar. 6). The Alamo defenders died to the last man, among them such storied names as William Travis, Davy Crockett, and Jim Bowie. Cost to the Mexican forces was dreadful. While Santa Anna dictated an announcement of glorious victory, his aide, Col. Juan Almonte, privately noted: "One more such 'glorious victory,' and we are finished." (The finish came Apr. 21 when Sam Houston's Texans routed the Mexican army at the Battle of San Jacinto near Houston, and captured "the Napoleon of the West," as Santa Anna billed himself.)

The Alamo is open Mon. - Sat. 9 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.; Sun. 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Alamo Plaza.

Jose Antonio Navarro State Historic Site

Three limestone structures, circa 1850--the home, office, and separate kitchen of Navarro, prominent

Mexican-Texan patriot who was among signers of Texas Declaration of Independence. Restored by Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept.; authentic period furnishings, personal memorabilia. Open Wed. - Thurs. 1 - 4 p.m., Fri. - Sat. 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. 228 S. Laredo St. Admission.

Texas Transportation Museum

Features antique pedicabs, horse-drawn and gas-powered vehicles, three model railroads, and other railroad memorabilia. Static display of business, Pullman, and steam locomotive. Train rides Sun. 1 -3 p.m. Open Thurs., Sat., Sun. 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. 11731 Wetmore Rd. Group tours for train ride require advance notice. (210)490-3554. Admission.


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