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Your Guide to the History and Visiting San Francisco Solano Mission

Your Guide to the History and Visiting San Francisco Solano Mission

Explore the rich history of San Francisco Solano Mission, from its 1823 founding to visiting tips for today. Team


2 min read

October 26, 2023

San Francisco Solano Mission, located in the heart of Sonoma, California, is not only a historical treasure but also a testament to California's vibrant past and rich cultural tapestry. For those interested in history, architecture, or simply a day of exploration, the Mission offers a fascinating journey into a bygone era. This guide dives deep into the history of San Francisco Solano Mission and provides a primer for those looking to visit this iconic landmark.

A Brief History:

Founded in 1823 by Franciscan priest, Father José Altimira, Mission San Francisco Solano stands as the northernmost and the last of the 21 Spanish missions established in California. It was built with the intent of converting the native Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo peoples to Christianity, while also serving as a buffer against Russian expansion from the north.

However, its history was tumultuous from the start. Within a year of its establishment, native peoples revolted against harsh conditions, leading to significant conflicts. The Mission's existence was further complicated by Mexico's secularization policies in the 1830s, which culminated in the mission properties being sold off or left in a state of neglect.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the mission saw a series of restorations, which revived its former grandeur and placed it as a historical focal point in California’s narrative. Today, it stands as a symbol of resilience, faith, and historical importance in the Golden State.

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What to See and Experience:

The mission is located in Sonoma State Historic Park and has a fee of $3 per person 17 years or older. Younger visitors from 16 to 6 years of age are charged $2. The admission lets visitors explore the Sonoma Mission, Sonoma Barracks, Toscano Hotel, General Vallejo Home, and Petaluma Adobe.

The park is open from 10am to 5pm daily.

Mission Chapel: The heart of the Mission, its chapel, showcases simplistic yet stunning Spanish Colonial architecture. A walk inside lets you experience the serene ambiance that has been a constant for two centuries.

Courtyard & Grounds: Immerse yourself in a peaceful retreat in the Mission's courtyard, replete with native plants, fountains, and pathways reminiscent of the 19th century.

Exhibits: The Mission houses a rich collection of artifacts from its active days, giving visitors a tangible connection to the past. Displays of religious artifacts, tools, and daily items used by the missionaries and native inhabitants offer a comprehensive view of life during the mission era.

Historical Paintings: Adorning the walls of the Mission are a series of paintings that depict its history, including the life of Saint Francis Solano, the mission’s namesake, and the interactions between the Spanish settlers and the native peoples.

Mission San Francisco Solano invites you to step back in time and embrace a critical chapter in California's story. As you wander its corridors and grounds, reflect on the intertwining narratives of faith, ambition, conflict, and resilience that define this iconic landmark. Whether you're a history enthusiast, an architecture admirer, or someone seeking a unique experience, the Mission promises a memorable visit.

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