San Juan Bautista Mission
406 2nd St., San Juan Bautista 95045 Driving directions
The Green Guide

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The largest mission in the California chain features ornate interiors and a bit of film trivia: the church tower here (touched with a little Hollywood magic) had a starring role in Alfred Hitchcock's 1957 feature "Vertigo." Today you can enjoy the Mission's colorful interiors and peaceful cemetery. Arriving here in June of 1797, Padre Fermín Lasuén dedicated this site as California's 15th mission, naming it for St. John the Baptist. By 1800, some 500 Indians were living here, and numerous structures had been built-among them a church, monastery and barracks. Unfortunately, the site bordered the San Andreas Fault, and the buildings were thus extremely vulnerable to earthquakes. A series of temblors in 1800 damaged buildings, including the church, and in 1803 construction began on a grand new adobe church that was completed in 1812. A series of arches graces the facade of the single-story adobe padres' quarters fronting a walled garden. The building now houses a small museum of mission artifacts and a re-created mission kitchen, library, dining room and parlor. The interior of the adobe church is distinctive for its three naves, separated by frescoed arches. The ornate designs painted on the interior walls and the reredos were executed in 1820 by an American sailor, Thomas Doak, who jumped ship in Monterey and undertook the commission in exchange for room and board. Doak is believed to be the first US citizen to settle in California.


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