the Grand Canal's Application for the World Cultural Heritage
San Antonio Mission Community Quest For World Heritage Status
2013-4-17 17:13:40 Hits1144

-There are five Spanish Colonial  Missions in San Antonio that were established between 1718 and 1731 along the San Antonio River:

Mission San Antonio de Valero (the Alamo), Mission San Juan, Mission Concepcion, Mission San Jose and Mission Espada

These five missions shaped the city of San Antonio both physically and culturally.

Today they continue to be important, living institutions from the iconic symbolism of Mission San Antonio de Valero (the Alamo) to the four active Catholic parishes of the southern missions.

Managed by church and state much as they began almost 300 years ago.

-the nomination includes all of the area within the current national park boundary and the General Land Office’s portion of Mission San Antonio de Valero

-Buffer zones are defined by the various in place ordinances that the city already has in place

-rio districts


-historic districts


This process began in 2006 when the U.S. government put out a notice for the formation of a new tentative list for World Heritage – the first since 1982.

A working group was immediately formed to write and submit the documentation necessary to be placed on the tentative list.

This group has been continuously working with members of the community to make sure that the missions made it onto the tentative list and that the missions “on the radar screen” when World Heritage was being discussed in Washington.

The U.S. proposed to sites to go forward to UNESCO in 2008, however one was pulled just prior to submitting it to the World Heritage Committee.

Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument was inscribed in 2010.

No sites were proposed to go forward from in 2009-10.

In 2011 the Federal Register notice for input on sites to move forward from tentative list was released but despite a vigorous campaign by local supporters, the San Antonio Missions were not selected t move forward.

In 2012 when the next notice was released, the local community again submitted support letters and our national advocacy group National Parks Conservation Association sent out an E-blast to its 750,000 members to please send a support letter on behalf of San Antonio Missions. Within 3 days over 18,000 letters had been submitted.

So at the 2012 US/ICOMOS meeting here in San Antonio Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar announced that San Antonio could begin to prepare their nomination document for submittal in 2012.

Meanwhile in January Poverty Point State Historic Site and National Monument submitted their document to the World Heritage Center for possible inscription in 2014.

The local community continues to work together to educate elected officials in Washington DC on the importance of paying our World Heritage dues in order for U.S. sites to be able to compete with other globally significant sites around the world.

The five missions represent a complete cultural landscape along the San Antonio River.


-San Antonio Missions represents the last wave of missions established in Northern New Spain

-Spain’s last attempt to keep their claim on land in the New World and protect it from encroachment from France, Russia, English/Americans

-many cultures represented

-the Spanish with 700 years of Moorish influence

-the friars and craftsmen that came from Queretaro with 200 years of blending of cultures from Spain and Central Mexican indigenous cultures

-the various bands of indigenous groups from South Texas

-the Apache and Comanche from further west being pushed to the east due to pressures from colonization in Arizona and New Mexico

-the Caddo of East Texas that came to San Antonio with the removal of the 3 East Texas missions to San Antonio

The Espada Acequia system is a National Civil Engineering Landmark that has been in continuous operation for over 260 years. Mission Espada alone has every aspect of the mission landscape preserved within its boundaries.  In addition Los Compadres and the National Park Service have worked for over 20 years to restore water to the San Juan acequia which was completed last fall.

The missions continue to be the heart of San Antonio. 

Descendents families live in the vicinity of the missions.

Four of the missions are still active parishes.

Many city events and activities revolve around one or more of the missions.

June 1st Secretary Salazar announced that the San Antonio Missions were authorized to prepare their dossier to be the next site of the U.S. tentative list to be submitted to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee

The lead organizations are continuing to work on ensuring that budget needs are met.

An 80% draft document has been submitted to local experts and community members for review. Any interested citizen can request a copy of the draft to provide input and comments.

We have had universal support from our elected officials at all levels, federal, state, county, and city. Local businesses and civic organizations have all expressed their written support for the nomination

We would be glad to come speak to your organization about WH and how we can work together now and into the future.

-economic impact

-San Antonio Missions NHP currently brings in approx. $20 for every $1 of the park’s budget – that’s 98 million/year in to the local economy

-WH status has the potential to increase the impact on the local economy

-This chart shows the economic impact of San Antonio Missions NHP and the Alamo without World Heritage status and the up to 26% increase in economic impact with World Heritage Status.

Please go to our website to learn more about the world heritage nomination.

World Heritage Week is April 27-May 4. There will be activities for adults and children. Check out the website for more information.

Download our banner and put it on your website. Add your name to the supporters list.

Like us on facebook and twitter.

In many ways the missions of San Antonio were a great melting pot of cultures – the various bands of South Texas, Lipan Apache, neophytes from the Rio Grande missions, Canary Islanders and later Comanche and others led to the blending of cultures in San Antonio and South Texas today

The goal of a mission was to create a self-sustaining community.  In that sense Mission San Antonio de Valero was the most successful of the San Antonio missions because it sits in the center of a great city and even more significantly the five San Antonio Missions together form the heart of the 7th largest city in the United States – San Antonio – our World Heritage city.





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