In Oceanside, California.
A pair of cupolas at the Mission San Luis Rey, one of the many “California Missions” that stretch from San Diego to San Francisco. As of the date of this post, we’ve visited 6 of the missions and endeavor to see all 21 eventually.
They are old (by US standards, with the first built in 1769 and the last in 1823), beautiful, peaceful, and photogenic places. They are historic, spiritual, and touristy (some more of each of these attributes than others). Some have archaeological significance and are still in use by Franciscan friars, or as schools, or as retreat centers, or even include senior living facilities. Cities like San Diego, Santa Barbara, San Jose, and San Francisco wouldn’t exist without their founding roots in the establishment of the missions that still stand.
And they have complicated histories full of religious, cultural, colonial and military oppression of indigenous cultures.
Walking around the buildings and grounds of one of these missions can inspire both reverence and guilt at the same time.