The Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano, also known as Saint Junipero Serra’s Temple, is California’s oldest monument and a National Historic Landmark built in the Spanish Colonial style under Saint Junipero Serra’s supervision.

The Basilica San Juan Capistrano, commonly known as the Great Stone Church, is a historic Roman Catholic church in the San Juan Capistrano area. Between 1794 and 1806, the current structure was built as a typical example of Spanish colonial architecture. The Chumash Indians constructed it using tule reeds and stones from the creek bank. The Native American laborers were typically paid with a barrel of brandy or wine for their efforts.

The original building has been substantially rebuilt twice, once in 1815 after an earthquake destroyed its predecessor in 1796, and again in 1867 after being severely damaged by another temblor in 1862. The current structure is the second-oldest church still standing in California.

Built on top of an ancient Indian burial ground belonging to the Juaneño/Luiseño tribe, Mission San Juan Capistrano was founded on July 25, 1776, by Franciscan priest Junípero Serra, who led a group of Spanish settlers to convert the Juaneños (the largest Native American group in southern California) to Christianity.

Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano, commonly called Mission San Juan Capistrano, is a Spanish mission founded by the Franciscan order in present-day San Juan Capistrano, California. Founded on June 13, 1776, as San Juan de Capistrano, it is one of the “Five Spanish Missions” included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro. The site is a National Historic Landmark and on the list of National Historic Landmarks. It was designated a California Historical Landmark in 1934.

The term “Capistrano” (from the Spanish word for “goat-stag”) refers to the small herd of semi-domesticated goats that were kept at the mission settlement and rangelands by the priests and brothers. From these animals, they made “Capistrano cheese,” which they used in place of currency until the Mexican government outlawed its export in 1813.

The mission was built on a bluff overlooking the coastal plain of today’s Orange County, California adjacent to what is now Laguna Beach. The area around it had been inhabited by the Acjachemen since around 500 C.E.

The mission was founded by Spanish priest Junipero Serra on September 1, 1776, in an area inhabited by the Acjachemen people. The mission was named after Saint John the Baptist but was commonly called “San Juan Capistrano” as it was the site of a famous Franciscan monastery in Spain.

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