On a Mission – at Santa Barbara

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.

Mission Santa Barbara has 150 years of historical charm.
Mission Santa Barbara has 150 years of historical charm.

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.

SB mission front porticoI 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.

SB mission portalAfter 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.

View from inner courtyard.

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.

The inner courtyard is home to the Sacred Garden.

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.

Full-length porticos are lined with old-world charm.
Full-length porticos are lined with old-world charm.

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.Santa Barbara mission hall _0107 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.SB mission side doorway.

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.

SB mission cemeterySB mission church doorway.SB mission detailSB mission front doorsSB mission front facadeSB mission gatewaySB mission interior windowSB window shuttered

Whew!  That was exhausting!
Whew! That was a work-out!

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