On a Mission

Santa Barbara = one of my favorite cities in California. I’m lucky to have a good friend, Gina (who I’ve known since the 2nd grade),  living in the Santa Barbara area while attending grad school at UCSB. And so I get to simultaneously visit my friend and a favorite city a few times a year! A pretty good deal :). Of the numerous times I’ve traveled to Santa Barbara in my 2 1/2 years in California, I had never visited the Santa Barbara Mission. So before Christmas, Gina and I checked that off my list of things to do in SB.

My favorite part about the Santa Barbara Mission (aka Mission Santa Barbara) was feeling like I was transported to Spain. Though I’ve never actually visited Spain, the Mission had a definite European vibe. It was established in 1786 by the Franciscans and is the only mission still under the leadership of the Franciscan Friars since its founding.

After the Santa Barbara Earthquake in 1812, which destroyed the existing mission,  construction on the current mission began. Today the Mission appears much as it did the day construction was completed in 1820.


Gina and I arrived at the mission on a gorgeous sunny day!


This fountain was built in 1808.


This is where they washed their laundry.


The purpose of the Mission was the Christianization of the Chumash Indians.


The peristyle that surrounds the garden courtyard.


Along the peristyle are the rooms of the present day museum displaying collections of artifacts mostly from the early mission days. Originally these rooms were the living quarters for the missionaries.


The Sacred Garden


This space was originally used as a work area for the Native Americans in the area to learn trades.


The buildings surrounding the garden were originally used as workshops.


An original wagon used by the missionaries and Chumash Indians.


The cemetery, dating from 1789 to present day, contains the graves of early settlers and Native Americans.

SB Mission tree

This tree in the cemetery was planted circa 1890.


On the outside of this cemetery wall are the ruins of the aqueduct used as the Mission’s early water system.


Some of the burial sites along the side of the church.


Am I entering a church or boarding a pirate ship? Later I learned the skull carvings over the church door indicate a cemetery location.


The church is still an active parish today of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.


Stone plaques embedded in the floor mark the crypt room where early missionaries and laymen are buried beneath the church.


The church’s architecture was based of a design by the Roman architect Vitruvius around 27 B.C.


While touring the church, Gina and I were treated to the choir practicing. The weekly Catholic liturgy is serviced by two choirs, the Mission Schola and the Choir of St. Barbara Parish.


The current church structure, the fourth and grandest, was erected in 1820 after an earthquake destroyed the previous church.


Mission Santa Barbara was the tenth mission in California.

The court house is another building where I  felt like I was in Europe, and a European castle at that! The intricately tiled floors, fresco paintings, and decorated ceilings made this court house very different from any I’ve visited. The court house was built in the Spanish Colonial Revival style and was completed in 1929. This building represents “Santa Barbara’s adoption of Spanish Colonial as its civic style.” As you walk  through downtown Santa Barbara and drive through the neighborhoods, you distinctly see the Spanish influence in the community. Most public buildings and many homes share the Spanish tiled roofs and stucco exterior.


The Santa Barbara Historic Courthouse


The courthouse complex is comprised of four buildings totaling 150,000 square feet.


The “El Mirador” clock tower stands at 85 feet.


The intricate tiling and painted ceilings are impressive!


View of the lobby


The beautiful Spanish style of the courthouse is definitely unlike any other U.S. courthouses I’ve visited.


The “mural room” showcases wall murals depicting the history of Santa Barbara. This room functions occasionally as a courtroom.


The dais is hand carved oak and elevated above the main floor of the Mural Room.


Each of the wrought-iron chandeliers weighs over 1000 pounds.


The curtains are over a 100 years old.


Visitors can climb to the “El Mirador” clock tower (85 feet up), which has 360 degree views of the Santa Barbara area.


View of the ocean!


View of Santa Barbara


View of Mission Santa Barbara


View of the sunken garden of the courthouse and the mountains.


The sunken garden is a popular place for weddings.


View of the clock mechanisms.


You can watch the bells ring from inside the clock tower.

Since I love to visit SB, I’m sure there will be future posts on one of my favorite California cities! The city’s wharf and beaches are great and I look forward to sharing about those in the near future! Also of note, I took the train to Santa Barbara this time and I highly recommend it! It was nice not to worry about driving and just read a book while traveling along the coast.


My view from the train on the way up to Santa Barbara!


My sunset view on the way back to Los Angeles!

3 Comments on “On a Mission

  1. Pingback: Stepping Back in Time! | Wherever Life Takes Me

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