I always imagined the Alamo as a small square structure built out of logs located somewhere in an unpopulated field or prairie in the southwest. Imagine my surprise at finding a relatively substantial stone building situated on a corner among the high-rise office buildings of downtown San Antonio. If I’d paid better attention in my high school history classes I might have known better.
The Alamo entryway structure is a modern addition to the historical park.
The last stand of the Alamo actually occurred in what was originally the chapel of the Mission San Antonio de Valero. This Spanish mission was established in 1718 by a Franciscan missionary to be used as a combination religious and trade school for Indians, as were all Spanish missions. The mission complex once covered as many as four acres of ground and in addition to the chapel held a convent for the priests, a granary, workrooms, storerooms, and Indian housing, all of which was surrounded by a wall.
Now many of the structures have been reconstructed into a large historical park complete with costumed soldiers and pioneers.
The mission was later used as a church for soldiers and between 1806 and 1812 it functioned as San Antonio’s first hospital. It gained the name of “the Alamo” when a company of calvary was stationed there during the 1800s.
Texans most like to remember the Alamo as the place where the tide turned in the Texan revolution. At that time it was used as the headquarters for the Mexican General Martin Perfecto de Cos who was preparing for a Texan assault in late 1835. This confrontation ended with de Cos’ surrender to the Texan army.
After the surrender, a small group of Texan soldiers held the Alamo, refortifying it, until Mexican General Santa Anna initiated a siege on February 23, 1836. On March 6 the Mexican army climbed over the walls and attacked the Alamo killing all or almost all the defenders who had barricaded themselves in the buildings. The last building to fall was the chapel. When the end wall of the chapel fell (and if I’m not mistaken it’s pictured above) it was the end for the last defenders who had been firing cannonballs from inside.
In this picture you can see modern buildings in the area surrounding the Alamo.
The story of the Alamo is one of the larger-than-life accounts of history I grew up with without ever knowing the full details. It was fascinating to visit there.
We had taken a bus from our B&B in the King William’s district to the downtown location of the Alamo. Following our tour, we walked down a nearby stairs to enter the River Walk where we had lunch at Joe’s Crabs.
Then we took a ride on a water taxi.
You can see the bus on the city street above. The River Walk is an ideal place to cool off and relax.
I’d go back here again in a heartbeat. And I’d do it in winter again.
Next up: part 3 of 3 – The Spanish Missions.
Find links to complete series at San Antonio.
Information on the Alamo from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alamo_Mission_in_San_Antonio