On our recent trip away over Christmas we spent a few days in beautiful Santa Barbara. As we were there for Christmas and to catch up with friends who were visiting from London we didn't get out and about an awful lot. We did make sure to spend one day playing tourist though and out first stop was the Mission Santa Barbara.
A few years back we stopped by Mission Santa Barbara for a quick look on our road trip home from Disneyland. Given that we were spending that day driving along the coast all the way back to San Francisco we didn't have time to actually go in. I snapped a few shots of the exterior of the mission and we continued on our way. Since then I've been eager to get back to Santa Barbara and take a proper look at the mission.
Mission Santa Barbara is located up in the hills overlooking the ocean. The views from the mission are just lovely. We were lucky to have a sunny day with clear blue skies - or maybe that's every day in Santa Barbara!
As we were visiting the mission at Christmas time a nativity scene (featuring live animals) was set up on the lawn in front of the building. The girls were excited to see baby donkeys, sheep and goats but as you can see in the photo below it was quite busy around the nativity scene so the girls hung back a little. Lola was pretty eager to tell me all about "Baby Cheeses" at the centre of the nativity scene. She had been learning the Christmas story at preschool but is still a little mixed up when it comes to names!
Established in December 1786, Mission Santa Barbara was the tenth of twenty one missions built in California by Spanish Franciscans. Maybe the Franciscans looked something like this...
I'm guessing they probably looked a little more like this...
Ok, enough silliness!
After fun photos by the entrance we headed into the mission for a look around. We did the self guided tour which led us out to an open courtyard area and through to the graveyard. The graveyard is always my favourite place when visiting churches. Ava and Lola's too. Here there was space for them to run around a little and Ava enjoyed reading the inscriptions on the headstones.
We then headed into the chapel where the ornate altar and decorative walls contrast perfectly with the simplicity of the pews and tiled floor. The doorway leading into the chapel from the graveyard features three skulls and crossbones. The girls were a little worried about what we'd find on the other side of the door. Pirates? Poison?
We then continued on the tour through to the museum where artifacts from the mission's early days are on display.
We enjoyed our visit of Mission Santa Barbara and I'm keen to see more of California's missions. California, much like Australia, is relatively young when it comes to European settlement and there aren't an awful lot of really old buildings. The missions tend to be the oldest buildings in their communities. While I'm not religious at all, I am very interested in history so visiting the missions is right up my alley. So far the only other mission we've visited (not counting the exterior of Mission Santa Ines in Solvang) is Mission Dolores in San Francisco which you can see here. That's two down, nineteen to go!