The most popular attraction in the city is Mission San Juan Capistrano, a Spanish mission founded in 1776. This is the only California mission that still functions as a parish church (Sacred Heart Church). The original adobe structure was destroyed by an 1812 earthquake, and the current structure is a recreation built between 1949 and 1959. A major fire in 2007 caused significant damage to the interior and forced the closure of the Mission for several years. However, it has since been restored, is open for daily tours and mass except on Mondays, and features a museum containing artifacts of early life at the Mission.
The city also encompasses Old Town Capistrano, a historic district that contains preserved 19th-century buildings and is one of the largest historic districts in the state of California. It is one of Orange County’s most popular tourist destinations, famous for its well-preserved example of California’s Spanish Colonial architecture and its collection of antique shops.
Mission San Juan Capistrano is a historical site in Southern California, located in the present-day city of San Juan Capistrano. Established in 1776, it was the eleventh Spanish mission established in Alta California and remains a parish church of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles today. The site is composed of two parts: the Mission itself, which is a National Historic Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places; and Old Town San Juan Capistrano, which contains many historic structures. The “Old Town” section, just outside the actual boundaries of the city of San Juan Capistrano, has been restored to its original condition in the 1930s by carpenter Walter Steilberg and is a living museum that reflects daily life during the Spanish period.
Mission San Juan Capistrano combines this partially restored historic site with an active Catholic parish. Masses are offered daily and tour groups visit with some regularity. The building has been renovated to its 1935 appearance and remains an active house of worship along with its museum status.
Just two hours south of Los Angeles, Mission San Juan Capistrano is a great day trip from Los Angeles or San Diego that brings you back in time. The mission was founded by the Spanish in 1776 and completed in 1782. It is said to be one of the best-preserved missions in California and is a National Historic Landmark.
Mission San Juan Capistrano stands today as a monument to the skill and artistry of a once-thriving California Indian culture, whose descendants still make up a significant portion of San Juan’s population. The mission complex is home to the annual Fiesta de Los Vaqueros (Fiesta of the Cowboys) and Festival of Lights when thousands visit its historic buildings to view displays and enjoy traditional music, dance, and food.