Mission San Carlos Borroméo del río Carmelo, more commonly known as Mission Carmel or Carmel Mission, was the second of the 21 California Missions and was founded by Father Junipero Serra in 1770 in Monterey and then relocated a year later to a bluff overlooking the Carmel River. He used the Mission as his headquarters and he died here in 1784 and is buried in the sanctuary of the church. The present church is the seventh Mission Church and was built of stone in1797 in a striking Moorish design and some say it is the most beautiful of all of the California Missions. It’s also one of the most visited Missions, probably because it is so close to other famous places such as The 17 Mile Drive, the golf courses at Pebble Beach, the shops and restaurants and art galleries at Carmel-by-the-Sea, and many other historic sites in nearby Pacific Grove and Monterey.
This photo of the entrance to the Mission grounds is my entry this week to Laura and Leanne’s Monochrome Madness Challenge over on Leanne’s website:
The Mexican government secularized the California missions in 1834 and the Mission was in ruins when it was given back to the Catholic Church in 1863. It has since undergone several restoration projects, the largest being the one by Harry Downie which began in the 1930s and continued into the 1970s. In 1933 the Franciscans turned the Mission over to the Monterey Diocese and it is an active parish church today. A magnificent organ was installed in 1986 and the mission today is often the site for concerts, art exhibits and lectures. Pope John XXIII designated the Mission church a minor Basilica in 1961. Pope John Paul II visited the church in 1987.
All of the buildings on the Mission grounds have been completely restored and the inner courtyard has been paved and is home to beautiful gardens. There are also four museums and an elementary school on the Mission grounds. One of the museums is dedicated to Harry Downie and tells the story of his restoration efforts that spanned more than forty years. Another museum includes the cell where Father Serra died in 1784.
My wife and I honeymooned in Carmel and have returned many times over the years. We visited the Mission one day in 1976 when our daughters were 5 and 3 years old. Here are some more photos from that visit:
The Mission can be found on Rio Road just off Highway One south of town and near the entrance to Carmel Valley. There is an admission fee ($6.50 for adults, $4 for seniors, $2 for kids, kids under 6 are free) to visit the Basilica, the Mission grounds, and the museums.