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Mission: Santo Domingo de la Frontera

History and Highlights

Hidden away up the arroyo from Vicente Guerrero, the sites of Misíon Santo Domingo de la Frontera are found in an area so agriculturally rich it’s immediately evident why Father Miguel Hidalgo and Father Manuel García chose the arroyo as the location for the Dominicans’ second mission in 1775.

Misión Santo Domingo de la Frontera’s riches didn’t save it from the ills that beset so many missions.  Adverse conditions forced the mission to relocate to its final site from two miles (3 km) downstream and a string of epidemics in the early nineteenth century thrashed the population count.  Nonetheless, evidence suggests the mission was highly productive and self-sustaining until the relentless onset of diseases led to the mission’s abandonment in 1839.

Although the oversight of this mission extended to a large geographic area, its population never numbered more than few hundred, and could be fit within the still-visible walls of the mission compound.

Today’s visitor is greeted by a site marked by striking adobe and stone leftovers of the mission’s past.  Restoration efforts by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in the late 1990s have paid off and, of the various mission sites “in ruin,” this one could be described as the most photogenic.   Another byproduct of the INAH’s renovation, the small museum containing artifacts preserved from the mission era is worth checking out.

Who founded it?

The Dominicans, led by Father Miguel Hidalgo and Father Manuel García.

What should I expect to see?

Uniquely contoured adobe walls mark the location of the mission’s chapel and another mission structure.  A small museum houses mission-era artifacts.

When should I go?

Anytime.

Where is it and how do I get there?

Set your GPS coordinates to N 30° 46.25’ W 115° 56.20’.  The access road, which runs along the north side of Vicente Guerrero’s arroyo, is signposted on the Transpeninsular Highway less than a quarter-mile (400 m) from the north end of the bridge.  Follow this unpaved road east nearly 5 miles (8 km) and you’ll find the mission site on the left.

Why should I go?

Visitors to the mission site are rewarded not only with a picturesque, recently restored mission site, but also a pleasant round-trip up the scenic Santo Domingo arroyo.

 

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