Founded by Padre Junipero Serra in 1769, Mission San Diego was relocated to its present site in 1774 to be closer to the Native American (Kumeyaay) villages, a reliable water source, and farming land. The following year, the mission was attacked by Indians, burned to the ground, and Padre Luis Jayme was killed. Padre Serra returned in 1776 to rebuild the mission, but built it in a quadrangle with a central plaza to provide better protection from future attacks.
The entrance to the mission is through the Gift Shop where a self-guided tour brochure is provided. The first stop on the tour is the earliest part of the adobe structure (1774) and was the padre's living quarters.
The Church is 150' long, 25' wide, and 29' high with high windows for protection....so impressive. It remains a very active parish today with two masses daily and seven (yes, 7) on Sunday.
All of the missions had bell towers. The bells were used to indicate when to work, eat, pray, siesta, etc. The Bell Tower Shrine is a place in the garden for a quiet prayer.
There were several beautiful statues in the serene garden: St. Joseph, the patron saint of the Spanish expedition to San Diego; St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscans; Padre Junipero Serra (1713-1784), founder of the California missions, and St. Anthony of Padua (1195-1231).
Additional gardens were located around the perimeter of the adobe buildings.
The Father Jayme Museum had displays about the Kumeyaay Indians; the 21 Franciscan missions along the coast of California; various religious artifacts, and other items of the era.
This statue commemorates St. Didacus (1400-1463) from the province of Andalusia in Spain. San Diego was named for him.
The Chapel was built in 1977, but the choir stalls, throne and altar date back to a 14th century monastery in Spain.
The Pieta sculpture by Christopher Penn Slatoff representing the Thirteenth Station of the Cross is located in the plaza.
There are statues dedicated to each of the 21 missions along the porch of at the entrance of the mission. Nearby is a large granite cross dedicated to Padre Luis Jayme (1740-1775) of the San Diego Mission who was killed when it was attacked by hundreds of Native Americans from remote villages. He is the first Christian martyr of California for his self-sacrifice, devotion, faith and love.
Admission is $3/seniors ($5/adults) and well worth it. You can do the self-guided tour pretty quickly. And this place is just beautiful. I highly recommend a visit if you are in San Diego.