The legacy and history of San Antonio began with a simple ceremony when, in 1718, Franciscans and Spanish representatives established the first mission. Within 13 years, five were located along the San Antonio River. The missions purpose was to acculturate and Christianize the native population and make them Spanish citizens. Today, visitors can retrace the footsteps of the mission Indians and friars. And, possibly, meet descendants of those first inhabitants.
Four Spanish frontier missions, part of a colonization system that stretched across the Spanish Southwest in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, are preserved here. They include Missions San José, San Juan, Espada, and Concepción. The park, containing many cultural sites and natural areas, was established in 1978.
The National Park Foundation encourages and promotes local fundraising support at individual national park sites. Los Compadres is a nonprofit partner of the National Park Service and provides volunteer support and financial aid for preservation, restoration and development projects at the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.