The first stop on our self-guided tour of the San Antonio Mission Trail was the beautiful Mission Concepcion (Neustra Senora de la Purisima Concepcion). Originally built in East Texas in the 1700s, the church was transferred to its present location in 1731, where it served as the mission religious center. There, Franciscan missionaries worked to convert the local Native Americans to Christianity.
Our first reaction to Mission Concepcion was one of surprise and wonder. Although we’d heard of the ‘other’ missions, honestly, we didn’t know what to expect. Having visited San Antonio’s most famous mission, The Alamo (where the legend seems to be much larger than the actual building, itself), several times over the years we were pleasantly surprised with how massive and lovely the structures on the San Antonio Mission Trail truly are; Mission Concepcion is no exception.
It was a gorgeous Spring day, and the mission grounds were still and quiet (despite our boys making plenty of noise as they wove in and out of the arched doorways). A church service was in progress, and, occasionally, the peaceful sound of voices singing hymns could be heard through the beautiful, old wooden doors.
The boys enjoyed chasing each other around the great stone walls and in between trees, climbing up jagged rocks, and exploring the curious, shadowy little rooms and niches while we read the plaques.
It was interesting to learn more about how the missions were constructed and organized back in the day. They were not only churches, but self-sufficient communities. Missionaries organized schools and taught the locals how to operate ranches. They tended herds of sheep and cattle, and produced plentiful crops of pumpkins, peppers, sweet potatoes, and corn (among other things).
We wandered through the hallways circling the church, and, after a while, we made our way over to the little prayer garden that sits on the left-hand side of the church for a few
minutes seconds of quiet and reflection before our youngest decide to try scaling the rock structure.
Bike paths wind around the church grounds, and they were pretty busy that day. Bikers quietly and politely zoomed past us as we made our way through the mission. If it had just been my husband and I, we may have considered renting a pair of bikes (or maybe a bicycle built for two? how fun would that be?) for the trip. The weather was perfect for it.
Instead, we spent about an hour walking and chasing our boys around while admiring all of the little details of Mission Concepcion, but we probably could have spent more time if our adventure had stopped there.
When it was time to go, we hopped back in the car, and re-fueled ourselves with water and snacks as we drove the few miles down the trail to visit Mission San Jose.