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Spanish Missions in Baja California

Spanish Missions in Baja CaliforniaThe Spanish Missions in Baja California comprise a series of religious outposts established by Spanish Catholic Dominicans, Jesuits, and Franciscans between 1683 and 1834 to spread the Christian doctrine among the local natives. The missions gave Spain a valuable toehold in the frontier land, and introduced European livestock, fruits, vegetables, and industry into the region. Eventually, a network of settlements was established wherein each of the installations was no more than a long day's ride by horse or boat from another. As early as the voyages of Christopher Columbus, the Kingdom of Spain sought to establish missions in Baja California to convert Pagans to Catholicism in Nueva España (New Spain, consisting of the Caribbean, of Mexico and portions of what today are the Southwestern United States), in order to facilitate colonization of these lands awarded to Spain by the Catholic Church. The Baja California Missions are listed in geographical order from north to south.

Camino Real Misionero / Royal Missionary Path

The Camino Real Misionero de las Californias, was a footpath connecting all the missions from the peninsula to the north. The route included religious establishments and rancherías, but native communities dedicated to hunting, harvesting and fishing did not always gratefully accept the message of the European missionaries.

The first Spanish Missions in Baja California

A Jesuit priest named Juan María de Salvatierra eventually managed to establish the first permanent Spanish settlement, the Misión Nuestra Senora de Loreto Conchó. Founded, on October 19, 1697, the Mission went on to become the religious and administrative capital of Baja California. From there, other Jesuits went out to establish other settlements throughout the peninsula, founding a total of 18 missions and two visitas ("visiting stations" or "country chapels") along the initial segment of El Camino Real over the next seven decades.

Franciscan Rule in Baja California

It was rumored that the Jesuit priests had amassed a fortune on the peninsula and were becoming very powerful. On February 3, 1768 the King ordered the Jesuits forcibly expelled from "New Spain" and returned to the home country. The Franciscans, under the leadership of Fray Junípero Serra, took charge of the missions and closed or consolidated several of the existing installations. The order also founded Misión San Fernando Rey de España de Velicatá (the only Franciscan mission in all of Baja California) and the nearby Visita de la Presentación in 1769.

Dominican rule in Baja California Missions

Representatives of the Dominican order arrived in 1772, and by 1800, had established 9 more missions in northern Baja, all the while continuing with the administration of the former the Jesuit missions. The peninsula was divided into two separate entities in 1804, with the southern one having the seat of government established in the Port of Loreto. In 1810, Mexico sought to end Spanish colonial rule, gaining her independence in 1821, after which Mexican President Guadalupe Victoria named Lt. Col. José María Echeandía governor of Baja California Sur and divided it in four separate municipios. The capital was moved to La Paz, in 1830, after Loreto was partially destroyed by heavy rains. In 1833, after Baja was designated as a federal territory, the governor formally put an end to the mission system by converting the missions into parish churches.

Baja California Norte

Misión El Descanso

Mision El Descanso or Misión San Miguel la Nueva - In Rosarito
Founded in 1817 among the Kumeyaay by Dominican missionary Tomás de Ahumada at a site 22 kilometers south of the present day city of Rosarito, Baja. It was the next-to-last mission founded by the Dominicans, and the farthest north.



Mision de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe del Norte - In Guadalupe Valley
Founded by the Dominican missionary Félix Caballero in June 1834, at the site of the modern community of Guadalupe, Baja. This was the last of the new Dominican missions in Baja California.

Misión San Miguel Arcángel de la Frontera

Mision San Miguel Arcángel de la Frontera - In Ensenada
Established on 28 March 1787 by the Dominican missionary Luis Sales among the Kumeyaay Indians of northwestern Baja California, Mexico. The ruins of the mission are located in present-day Ejido La Misión in the municipio of Ensenada.

Misión Santa Catarina

Mision Santa Catarina Virgen y Mártir - In Ensenada
Founded on November 12, 1797 in the present-day Valle of El Álamo in the municipio of Ensenada, Baja by the Dominican missionary José Loriente. The location was previously known as Ha'ketepohol, meaning "water that falls loudly".

Misión Santo Tomás de Aquino

Mision Santo Tomás de Aquino - Near San Ignacio
Founded on April 24, 1791 by the Dominican missionary José Loriente. The mission was established on the mountainside of the San Solano hills in northwestern Baja California.

Misión San Vicente Ferrer

Mision San Vicente Ferrer - In San Vicente
San Vicente was one of the largest and most important of the Dominican missions, because of its fertile land, comparatively abundant water, and strategic location on the missions' Camino Real.

Misión Santo Domingo de la Frontera

Mision Santo Domingo de la Frontera - near Colonia Vicente Guerrero
Founded in 1775 by the Dominicans Miguel Hidalgo and Manuel García. The first site of the mission was about 13 kilometers east of the coast, but the water supply proved to be inadequate. The mission was moved farther east in 1793.


Mision San Pedro Mártir de Verona
Established by the Dominican missionary José Loriente in 1794. Archaeological explorations have located possible traces of the first mission site. Foundations and walls survive at the second mission site.


Mision Nuestra Señora del Santísimo Rosario de Viñacado - near El Rosario
The first Dominican mission in Baja California, established in 1774 by Vicente Mora and Francisco Galisteo near the modern town of El Rosario. Ruined walls and foundations from both the first and the second mission survive.


Mision San Fernando Rey de España de Velicatá
Was the only mission founded by Franciscans in Baja California. The mission quickly reached its peak and went into decline as epidemics decimated the native population. A few ruined walls and stone foundations survive at the site.


Visita de Calamajué or Visita de Calamyget - in Calamajué
It was intended to become the site of Mission Santa María. However, an apparently more suitable site for the latter was found 50 Kilometers away. Adobe ruins and rock corrals now mark the location.


Mision Santa María de los Ángeles - near Cataviña
Was the last of the missions established by the Jesuits in Baja California, Mexico, in 1767. The visita was abandoned in 1818. Ruined structural walls and rock corrals survive at the site.

Misión San Francisco Borja

Mision San Francisco Borja
Spanish mission established in 1762 by the Jesuit Wenceslaus Linck. A stone church was completed during the Dominican period, in 1801. The mission was abandoned in 1818. Structures and ruins survive.


Mision Santa Gertrudis
Founded by the Jesuit missionary Jorge Retz in 1751. The mission was finally abandoned in 1822. The church was extensively renovated in 1997, substantially altering its historical character.

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Baja California Sur


Mision San Ignacio Kadakaamán - in San Ignacio
Founded by the Jesuit missionary Juan Bautista de Luyando in 1728. The site proved to be a highly productive one agriculturally, and served as the base for later Jesuit expansion in the central peninsula. The mission was abandoned in 1840.



Mision Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de Huasinapi - in Guadalupe
Established by the Jesuit Everardo Helen in 1720. The mission was abandoned in 1795, when its residents were transferred to La Purísima. Surviving traces of Mission Guadalupe include building walls, dams, and graveyards.

Visita de San José de Magdalena - in Santa Rosalía
Founded in 1774 by the Dominican missionary Joaquín Valero. The visita was terminated when the mission at Mulegé was closed in 1828. Ruined walls of stone and adobe brick survive at the site.
Misión Santa Rosalía de Mulegé

Mision Santa Rosalía de Mulegé - in Mulegé
Founded in 1705 by the Jesuit missionary Juan Manuel de Basaldúa. A hurricane in 1717 devastated the agricultural fields that supported the settlement. Construction of a stone church was begun in 1766.


Mision San Bruno - in San Bruno
Established in 1683 by Jesuit missionary Eusebio Francisco Kino. Exploratory expeditions into the surrounding region were undertaken, including the first land crossing of the peninsula by Europeans.


Mision La Purísima Concepción de Cadegomó - in La Purísima
Founded by the Jesuit missionary Nicolás Tamaral in 1720. The mission was abandoned in 1822. In the early twentieth century, the church was still in use, but by the start of the following century only a few traces of structures remained.


Mision San Jose de Comondú - north of Loreto
One of the Jesuit missions established early in the eighteenth century. The mission ceased to function in 1827. Substantial architectural remnants survived into the twentieth century, existing buildings have been extensively renovated.

Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó

Mision de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó - in Loreto
Founded on October 25, 1697 by the Jesuit missionary Juan María de Salvatierra, this earliest successful mission in Baja California is sometimes considered "head and mother of all the Spanish missions in Upper and Lower California."

Misión San Francisco Javier

Mision San Francisco Javier de Viggé-Biaundó - in San Javier
Founded by the Jesuit missionary Francisco María Piccolo in 1699. By 1817, the mission was deserted. The church has been restored and is now maintained by Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History.


Mision San Juan Bautista Malibat or Misión Liguí - in Liguí
Founded by the Jesuit missionary Pedro de Ugarte in 1705. The site proved to be a poor one, with little agricultural potential. Surviving archaeological remnants of the abandoned mission include several sections of building foundations.


Mision Nuestra Señora de los Dolores del Sur Chillá - between Loreto & La Paz
Jesuit missionary Clemente Guillén founded Mission Dolores in 1721. It was finally abandoned in 1768, when the Franciscans took over control of the Baja California missions from the Jesuits.


Mision San Luis Gonzaga Chiriyaqui - northwest of La Paz
Jesuit mission established initially in 1721, until the Jesuits were expelled and the mission was closed in 1768. The construction of stone and adobe brick structures that still survive at the site.

Misión de Nuestra Señora del Pilar de La Paz

Mision de Nuestra Señora del Pilar de La Paz Airapí - in La Paz
Established by the Jesuit missionaries Juan de Ugarte and Jaime Bravo in 1720. Was the location of the earliest Spanish activity in Baja California, and finally abandoned in 1748, when its Indian neophytes were relocated to Todos Santos.

Misión Todos Santos

Mision Santa Rosa de las Palmas or Misión Todos Santos - in Todos Santos
The site was initially a visita, or subordinate mission station of the mission at La Paz, established in 1724 by Jaime Bravo. The mission was reestablished in 1735, and its dwindling population was augmented in 1748 when the remaining neophytes at La Paz were moved to Todos Santos.


Mision Santiago de Los Coras - in Santiago
Founded by the Italian Jesuit Ignacio María Nápoli in 1724. Rebuilding was begun in 1734, but the mission was ultimately abandoned during the Dominican period in 1795, and its remaining neophytes were relocated to San José del Cabo.


Mision Estero de las Palmas de San José del Cabo - in San José del Cabo
The southernmost of the Jesuit missions on the Baja California peninsula. In 1795, under the Dominicans, the surviving native population of Mission Santiago was transferred to San José del Cabo. The mission was finally closed in 1840.

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Reference: www.wikipedia.org

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