Things to Do in San Antonio: The Alamo
The history of The Alamo dates all the way back to the early 1700s when Father Antonio de San Buenaventura y Olivares started the Texas Mission work. The present day location of the mission was built in 1724 with the goal of, not only converting Native American Tribes to Catholicism, but converting them to the Spanish way of life also.
Native American Tribes were taught agriculture, weaving, raising livestock, stone work, blacksmith, and carpentry in hopes of starting a growing population loyal to Spain and without the influence of France. The mission ended in 1793 when disease reduced the native population and the land was handed over to local government.
For the next century, The Alamo in San Antonio was used as a military outpost. It was at The Alamo that the famous battle of 1836 occurred during the Texas revolution. General Antonio Lopez De Santa Anna marched through the winter to San Antonio where the rebels fled across the river to the Alamo. Many men, women, and children, were killed in the final battle when the Mexico army, unaware that Texas had declared its independence, rushed the Alamo, killing the 200 defenders as they slept just before dawn. Santa Anna troops claimed, repaired and occupied the Alamo until May 1836 when they were ordered to withdraw and destroy the Alamo. They knocked down several of the walls in an attempt to make repair difficult for the Texans.
In the early 20th century, after a century of various military use, what was left of The Alamo was turned into a memorial for those who died in the legendary battle of 1836. A gift shop and park were built near the grounds as well. In 1960, John Wayne starred in a movie about the epic battle, and The Alamo gained much attention once again leading to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas opening a museum at The Alamo is 1968. This museum still stands and is visited by hundreds of tourists daily. Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/Fotolia
»Buildings at The Alamo
The Church or Shrine is the most widely recognized structure of the Alamo. Built to be used in the Spanish Missions, the church has also been the depot warehouse for the army, and is now the memorial to the 200 fallen Texas Rebels from the battle of 1836, called the Shrine.
Address: Campo Santo, once bordered by walls, was first designed as a cemetery when the grounds were used during the Spanish Missions. Many of the converted Native American people were buried here. When the US Army occupied the Alamo however, the grounds were turned into part of the Alamo Plaza and used as street space in front of the church. The cemetery was paved in 1935 with flagstone and a lawn was created.
Address: Long Barrack was originally built to be a two story living quarters for the Spanish Missionaries. This building was also where the epic last stand took place in 1836 when the Texan Rebels retreated to this building against the Santa Anna army. The Barrack has since undergone many changes, being used in various ways by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, and incorporated into the Hugo Schmeltzer Store
Address: Gift shop, often mistaken as being part of the original Alamo, was built as a museum in 1937 as one of nine centennial buildings honoring the 100th anniversary of Texas independence. The museum held many artifacts of historical importance until the Daughters of the Republic of Texas decided to convert it into a souvenir shop to fund their mission work. Today the building, completely renovated in 2012, houses the Alamo Gift Shop.
Address: Alamo Hall was built in 1922 and served as a fire house. In 1937, the structure was deeded to the State of Texas and the DRT (Daughters of the Republic of Texas) decided to remove the second floor and use the building for whatever needs arose. Today, the space is available to rent for a variety of different occasions. Rentals are currently not being accepted however until all of the various renovation and preservation projects are completed.
Address: The Arcade was built in the early 1930s as part of a beautifying project to put people to work by the Works Projects Administration.
Address: Alamo Research Center, the former DRT library, opened in 1950 and still houses the DRT’s collection of books, documents and photographs dating back to early Texas, particularly San Antonio. The building is not open to the public, but can be used for research by appointment only.
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»Tours and Exhibits
The Battlefield Tour is the first thing visitors should do when coming to the Alamo. This guided tour takes you on the path of the epic battle of 1836, showing you the original fort and plaza, and discusses the history of The Alamo. Visitors are also taken to the place on the North wall where Colonel Travis spent his final moments, and where the legend, David Crockett fought. The tour is one hour long and recommended for ages 13 and up.
Address: The VIP Tour is the perfect small group experience. A guide takes your 5 to 20 -person group through the buildings and grounds of The Alamo, giving a detailed history lesson. Tours must be booked at least one week in advance and are not available during summer months.
Address: After Hours Tour is a unique experience for a group of at least 20. After the last visitors leave, your group is taken through the Shrine and The Long Barracks by a history interpreter. The tour is one hour long and must be booked at least one week in advance.
Address: The Phil Collins Collection was donated by the music legend himself in 2014. The collection consists of Alamo and Texarkana artifacts that Collins spend a lifetime collecting. He donated weapons, relics, documents and many other historical objects that he had bought, and even discovered himself, to the Texas General Land Office. The hundreds of items in their entirety will soon be on display in a museum that is currently under construction.
Many events are hosted at the Alamo year after year drawing huge crowds of visitors from all over the world. The events range from ceremonial to educational and are for all ages.
Address: First Saturday at The Alamo is a special day where, on the first Saturday of every month, visitors get free admission and are able to partake in an interactive history event that depicts what life was like in Texas as far back as the mission days. History comes alive with live firing events using black powder, costuming, and more.
Address: Battle Anniversary/Dusk at the Alamo is a ceremonial, two- week long celebration and memorial of the battle of 1836. From February 23rd through March 6th, every year, different events are held daily. The event concludes with the lighting of the funeral pyres of the Alamo soldiers, just as General Antonio Lopez De Santa Anna did in 1937.
Address: Fourth of July at the Alamo features a live reading of the Declaration of Independence with plenty of fireworks and activities for the public to enjoy.
Address: Fall at the Alamo is held on the second Saturday of October every year since 1998. This event is a period craft show set up entirely by volunteers. There is a specific theme every year as well.
Address: History Talks are lecture groups held every day that occur throughout the day and are 20 minutes long. Each present discusses something about the history surrounding the Alamo and these lectures are free with admission.
Address: San Antonio Founders Day is one of the most anticipated events of the year. Held on the third Saturday of October every year, many historical groups come to the ground of the Alamo to create an event commemorating the history of Texas and San Antonio.
Address: Summer Camp at The Alamo is a fantastic opportunity for children ages 9-13 to become immersed in history, meet new friends, and learn what it was like to live in the 1830s and 1840s Texas. Kids participate is soldier school, period cooking, period crafting, fire starting, and period games and toys.
Address: Crockett Fiddler Fest has been held for three consecutive years in march and is a day filled with fun and music. Local musicians come out to play western swing, bluegrass, and old time country, and food trucks from all over Texas set up along the Crockett Street. Photo: DmitriK/Fotolia
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»Plan Your Visit
There are very strict rules ones must adhere to in order to be granted admission to The Alamo. Visitors should familiarize themselves with these rules before going so as not to be surprised.
Men cannot wear hats inside the shrine.
No food, beverage, or open containers are allowed in any of the buildings.
Photography, camera, or cell phone use is not allowed inside the buildings.
Unless marked for interactive content, no touching displays or walls of the Shrine.
No animals unless Service animals.
NO obscene language or clothing will be tolerated.
One must speak in a low voice.
No bikes, or skateboard.
No unauthorized weapons, state issue carry license required to carry a weapon.
Back to: Best Things to Do in San Antonio, TX.
Address: 300 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, Texas 78205, Phone: 210-225-1391
Photo: CE Photography/Fotolia
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Things to Do in San Antonio: The Alamo
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