Mission San Jose | San Antonio, Texas

07 July 2017

Texas did not receive its first UNESCO World Heritage Site until 2015. The sheer amount of history and culture that embodies this state is remarkable, yet largely overlooked. With the exception of the Alamo, the historical sites of Texas are rarely visited by anyone other than Texans themselves. Even then I find myself guilty. Born and raised here in the Lone Star State I had never visited any of the San Antonio missions other than the Alamo. During a recent trip to San Antonio I had decided it was time to visit a part of Texas' first World Heritage Site. 

The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is made up five Spanish missions scattered across  the city of San Antonio. They are Mission Valero (the Alamo), Mission Concepcion, Mission San Juan Capistrano, Mission San Francisco de la Espada, and Mission San Jose. The purpose of these missions were colonization. The Spanish had claimed the land that would later be called Texas in the name of Christianity. Although the main goal of the missions was to convert the local people to Catholicism, the missions were also a safe haven. With the threat of Europeans looming on all sides, the Texas frontier had become a dangerous place. The San Antonio missions became communities that would later shape the idea of Texas itself. 

On this hot summer day I only had time for one mission, so I chose Mission San Jose. Founded in 1720, the original church still stands today. I was lucky enough to visit while a mass was in progress. Yes, it is still a functioning Catholic Church to this day. It reminded me just how different historical churches in America are to their European counterparts. 

The whole mission grounds were incredible. Especially if the only mission you have visited is the tiny Alamo. Spreading over acres, it was easy to imagine the thriving community that once called Mission San Jose home. 

I'm hoping I'll get the chance to visit the rest of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park soon enough. Texas is so large that many people are born and raised within the state without even visiting the majority of it. There is so much history in my own backyard that I am just beginning to explore. 


The Oldest City Park in the United States | Boston, Massachusetts

17 June 2017

Since its founding in 1634 the Boston Common has had many different uses. What started as a cow pasture became a campsite for British troops before the Battle of Lexington and Concord. Sometime later, the Common became a public hanging site until a gallows was introduced. Years later it would become a garden, a cemetery, and even the location of riots and protests. As the oldest city park in the United States, the Boston Common is a unique place where nature and history coexist. 

I was lucky that my trip to Boston coincided with some of the most beautiful weather Boston had seen this Spring. Tourist and locals alike were setting up places in the shade to sit and relax. I found myself wondering the park at a snails pace, just enjoying the serenity. Boston Common is a haven in the center of busy Boston. 


Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum | Boston, Massachusetts

03 June 2017

Museums are a way to showcase the true character of a city. From natural sciences to arts, all museums hold artifacts that tell a unique tale of the place you're visiting and the people who helped make it possible. 

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is just as unique as it is telling. From the outside this modern art museum fits in well with its Boston surroundings. However as soon as you step foot inside you know you are about to be transported back in time. 

Isabella Stewart Gardner was one of America's leading art collectors at the start of the 20th century. By 1903 she had built a museum designed to look like a Venetian palace right in the heart of Boston. Her goal was for visitors to be immersed in Renaissance art and architecture, making the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum one of a kind. Around every corner you are greeted with some of the greatest pieces from the Renaissance including works by Botticelli, Matisse, and Degas. It is undoubtably one of the greatest collection on the Eastern seaboard. 

The museum has a dark history as well. It is the location of the worlds greatest property theft in history. In 1990 two men stole 13 pieces valuing $500 million. The robbery remains unsolved and the pieces are still missing to this day. The museum keeps the empty frames on the walls in hopes of their return. There is a $10 million reward. 

There is no shortage of history and art in the city of Boston. As one of America's oldest cities, Boston is rich in culture. However, I highly suggest getting lost in the hallways of the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum for an afternoon. You will not be disappointed.