Monday, May 12, 2008

The King Of The Missions

Founded in 1793, the largest of the 21 Californian missions is San Luis Rey, named for Louis IX of France (1215-1270). At the height of its prosperity in 1818, it controlled 6 mission ranches with livestock herds numbering 50,000 cattle and over 2,000 horses. The mission is built around a 500' x 500' quadrangle, where the first pepper trees in the state still grow. Made of handmade adobe and burnt bricks, the 6 foot thick walls and tiled columns still stand strong. Mexico ended the mission system in 1834, after it had won independence from Spain and could no longer afford the expense. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed a declaration returning the missions to the Catholic Church. With its extensive wall decorations painted by native artists, Mission San Luis Rey is one of the finest remaining examples of early mission architecture.

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