Recently we went down south of Tucson to visit a couple of missions. The first destination was the San Xavier Del Bac Mission on the Tohono O’odham Nation. It was founded in 1692 by Padre Eusebio Kino. The current building was finished by 1797 and is the oldest European structure in Arizona. (http://www.sanxaviermission.org/History.html) The first thing you notice when you pull up to the massive building is the fact that one of the towers is unfinished. This is due to the fact that buildings that were ‘under construction’ did not have to pay taxes… The building is incredibly white and almost too bright to look at in the mid-day sun. When you step inside you begin to appreciate the blazing white outside and it reflects the heat and keeps the inside is very cool. Most of the restorations have been completed and what you see on the inside is as original as it’s going to get. The colors are vibrant and the statues are amazingly detailed. After walking around inside for a bit we ventured into the museum. It is currently under construction and some of it has been closed off. There wasn’t much in the way of exhibits or light for that matter. Further to the east of the building is the gift shop, it is very clean and very affordable. On the way out we stopped by one of the stands that had Indian fry bread…oh man that was good, both as a bean version and as a cinnamon honey one.
Next we went a bit further south to Tumacácori National Historical Park in Tubac. This is not a functioning church and is run as a national park. The site is well maintained and the museum is astounding. I wasn’t expecting the quality that we saw way out in the middle of nowhere. There was even a statue of Padre Kino, who also founded this mission in 1691 as the Spanish territories expanded north. There are plenty of exhibits on how the building was made and even an example of an O’odham house that was built in 1997. There was even a sweet couple making fresh tortillas for a small donation to the grounds. This is a great day trip for families but try to hit it up before the cool weather disappears; there is a lot of walking outside to visit these sites.