California travel expert Veronica Hill of http://www.CaliforniaTravelExpert.com and the California Essential Guide app (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id428163062?mt=8) shares her guide to Mission San Juan Capistrano — one of the most beautiful California Missions — in this episode of California Travel Tips.
The “Jewel of the California Missions,” Mission San Juan Capistrano was founded by Franciscan Padre Junipero Serra on Nov. 1, 1776. The mission was the 7th of 21 California missions established along El Camino Real, The Kings Road.
It was here, in 1779, that California’s first vineyard of criolla grapes was planted, and where experts believe the state’s wine industry began. The first sacramental wines were produced here in 1783.
In 1818, a band of pirates led by Hipolito Bouchard landed at Dana Point and moved inland, raiding the Mission of its food and wine. Fortunately, residents were warned of the assault and hid most of the Mission’s gold and treasure.
Highlights of the mission include:
Serra Chapel, the last surviving church where Father Junipero Serra performed Mass.
The Great Stone Church, completed in 1806, was once the most magnificent chapel on the West Coast. In 1812, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake destroyed the church, killing 42 parishioners. Some believe that the ghost of Magdalena, a girl killed in the rubble, still haunts the ruins.
The Central Courtyard and Gardens, home to colorful poppies, fragrant blooms, and a bubbling Moorish fountain filled with koi.
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