San Juan Capistrano is, in Kongo’s opinion, of the most interesting and delightful missions strung along the California coast. Founded by Friar Junipero Serra, a Franciscan missionary, in 1776 the site at San Juan Capistrano is one of the best preserved of all the missions. It is also the oldest building in California in continuous use and the only church still existing where Father Serra actually celebrated mass. Father Serra founded a string of missions, all about a days walk from each other, from San Diego to San Francisco.
The original mission church was shaped like a cross and had seven domes. It collapsed during mass in an 1812 earthquake, killing 40 native worshipers. Before its destruction it was considered the most magnificent building in all of California and could be seen for 10 miles and its bells could be heard even further.
The existing sanctuary at Mission San Juan Capistrano and the place where Father Serra actually held mass.
Mission bells were very important to life at a California mission. They were rang to announce meal times, call the faithful to mass, announce the arrival of dignitaries or a ship arrival on the nearby coast. The two bells above are original mission bells named San Vicente and San Juan.
The above image is the Basilica San Juan Capistrano, which is located adjacent to the old mission. It was built in 1986 in the same style of the original mission church that was destroyed by earthquake.
When these bells began ringing at noon as the monkey and Mrs. Kongo were having lunch at an outdoor cafe across the street, it was very loud. Deafening actually.
So after a pleasant few hours the Kongo’s headed on south to San Diego where they live only a few miles from the original mission: Mission San Diego de Alcala.
Travel safe. Have fun.