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World Heritage Mission

San Antonio continues Quest for World Heritage Status
Written by , published September 16, 2014

san-joseWhether you’ve visited the San Antonio Missions, Texans know that, collectively, they are an undeniable Texas treasure. But truly, the missions deserve recognition of global proportions. More specifically, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage designation. If you agree, you have a role in making it so.

How You Can Help

Help the San Antonio Missions achieve World Heritage status by visiting and showing your support.

San Antonio Missions

Mission San Antonio (The Alamo): The distinctive mission church and convento (long barracks) are the principal remaining features.

Mission Concepción: The stone church on a cruciform plan and several rooms of the friars' precinct (convento) are the most important elements at this compound.

Mission San José:  This elaborately decorated stone church dominates its mission compound.

Mission San Juan:  Includes both the present church and several auxiliary structures, as well as    separated support sites--the San Juan Dam, the San Juan Acequía (irrigation ditch), and the San Juan Labores (fields):

Mission Espada:  Includes the mission church, auxiliary structures, and separated support sites: the Espada Dam, Espada Aqueduct, Espada Labores, Espada Acequía, and Rancho de las Cabras, the latter of which was a grazing ranch, with "mini-mission" compound, now in ruins, near Floresville in Wilson County.

The National Park Service, which maintains the majority of the Missions, is leading the World Heritage application process, but everyone can play a part by visiting to show support for the designation and experience some community sharing.

A UNESCO reviewer is expected in San Antonio soon, and those leading the designation efforts say the chances for achieving the designation will be much improved if there are signs of a strong community backing.

"Gaining World Heritage status would bring the San Antonio Missions to the same level of world acknowledgement as the Pyramids of Egypt, Australia's Great Barrier Reef and the United States' Statue of Liberty, Grand Canyon and Redwood National Park," said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff ant the 2012 launch of the Quest for World Heritage Status.  "These sites are some of the world's most cherished and visited landmarks on Earth. San Antonio now has the opportunity for its five Missions to make that world-class list. It would be the first World Heritage site in the State of Texas and only the 22nd World Heritage designation in the United States."

World Heritage committee members note that all shared images and favorite mission stories will help demonstrate the community’s appreciation of the Missions and a willingness to preserve them.

"It's hard to describe just how important having the San Antonio Missions elevated to World Heritage status will be for San Antonio and Texas," said Wolff. "Most San Antonians know about the Missions, but their historical and cultural significance to Texan and American heritage is not thoroughly understood. We now have an opportunity to shed a very bright light on our Missions, share these irreplaceable works of art with the world and make San Antonio a World Heritage Site."

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