Milepost 3-15-14 Santa Barbara, California
One of the joys of settling into a new community is exploring the unique features that make it what it is. Santa Barbara, California, is known for its premiere historical site, the old mission. Kaye shares her perspective on our visit there yesterday:
(Kaye writes) Much of the California coastline is dotted with charming old missions that stand as monuments to the religious and cultural history of this region when it was still part of Mexico. One of the more beautiful and more famous ones, Old Mission Santa Barbara, is wonderfully restored and maintained.
Visitors are greeted by a lovely view of the old church – which has been expanded and repaired many times through the years – and by a welcoming portico that runs the full length of the adjacent mission structure.
I was enamored by the uneven tile floor full of dips and smooth worn edges, but still shiny as can be. Meanwhile, Bob was fascinated with architectural details like the awesome arches, magnificent doors, quaint windows, and walls that were more than three feet thick – photographic opportunities galore.
After buying tickets for the self-guided tour, we stepped through a door into a dim hallway, past the first of many beckoning stairways, and back out into the daylight of the huge square courtyard, dubbed the Sacred Garden – which is in the midst of major rejuvenation, but still lovely with roses and plants of all kinds and graceful palm trees encircling a modest three-tiered fountain.
Visitors are allowed to wander along two sides of this wonderful courtyard before finding our way up picturesque staircases and through stone pathways skirting yet another lovely courtyard and leading eventually into the cemetery.
Signs seemed to indicate the possibility of using the Mission Renewal Center for personal or group retreats – an idea that I find very appealing. We also learned of the possibility of having one’s cremains buried in the mausoleum – an idea not quite so fun to me.
From the cemetery we went into the nave of the church and spent a leisurely time soaking up the beauty and symbolism and stillness of that great place. I almost would have expected that to be the climax of the tour, but then came the museum room – and then another room and another. This was actually a rather impressive and extensive museum with re-created rooms from long-ago mission life as well as a good variety of artifacts displayed and historical events illustrated and well-explained for those who took time to read them.
The experience was well worth the five dollars we paid and I would recommend it to people who enjoy history and culture. We prolonged our enjoyment of the gorgeous sunny day by sitting on the grass out front for a couple more hours.