We discovered the mission by accident a couple of years ago during our drive from San Jose to Carmel. My two sons behaved abominably in the car, and my husband and I were so angry we thought we might have an accident if we continued driving. So we took the first turn-off from the highway which turned out to be the town of San Juan Bautista. We followed the signs to the mission and once there let the boys out to run and let off steam. I was so frazzled that I didn't look around much but still went away with a vague feeling of peacefulness of a small quiet town with no strip malls or rusty warehouses but with old dilapidated buildings, chickens on the street and shaggy sunflowers. So this past summer we decided to take a trip back and actually look around and read the brochure and enjoy a slow quiet day before the start of another hectic school year. We had a lot of fun and the boys behaved:-).
The mission was founded in 1797 and has had an unbroken succession of priests ever since despite being briefly secularized by the Mexican government in the 1830s. It is the largest California mission but less wealthy than the mission in Carmel.
Alfred Hitchcock, an English-born former resident of Scotts Valley, Ca, used the grounds in his film "Vertigo" and the heroine fell off the mission tower.
The rose is the queen of the gardens here. It was interesting to see that while quite a few antique roses were growing in the town itself, the mission is almost exclusively planted with modern roses.
However, it seems to me that roses (any roses) go so beautifully with old buildings and stone that it really didn't matter at all.
A view from the cemetery over the San Juan valley
Our Lady of Guadalupe
And here are some more views of the mission grounds.
The mission was built almost on top of the San Andreas fault. An earthquake in 1800 caused part of the church to collapse.
The fault line goes directly under the cemetery wall, pretty much right over that picket fence.
Some views of the valley from the mission
Right opposite the mission is the only original Spanish plaza still surviving in California. Here is a view of the Plaza Hotel.
I was told there is an old rose garden in the town itself, which we missed on this trip. Another post is coming:-).