Part of the rich history of the state of California, Spanish missions are a testament to the colonization of the state and its early years. These missions tell the story of the founding of the state, and many remain today as historical sites. One of the most significant of these missions is the Old Mission Santa Ines in Solvang, CA. Founded in 1804, it was the last mission founded in Southern California, and continues to be an active Catholic church. Whether your visit to Santa Ines is a religious or a historical one, be sure to make this mission in Solvang a must visit during your trip!
Santa Ines Mission Museum
For those interested in the rich history of Santa Ines, your first stop when you visit the mission should be to the museum on site. After paying a small fee of $5, the museum is yours to explore. The collection here combines historical artifacts and scale models that capture what the mission was like when it was at its height of activity. Points of pride in the museum is the collection of vestments and original mission bells. There is also an entire room in the museum dedicated to the Madonna Chapel, which features a beautiful wood carving in the alter and paintings from the era. As you exit the Santa Ines Mission museum, be sure to visit the gift shop and pick up a souvenir!
Once you exit the museum, you will find yourself in the main church of this Solvang mission. As Santa Ines is an active church, be sure to be respectful of worshippers that may be inside. The chapel boasts typical mission style architecture, as it is a long, narrow room with a wood beam ceiling. The altar consists of a shrine to the patron saint of the mission, Saint Agnes, and the painted decorations are a careful restoration of the original artwork. Many of the niches in the chapel feature paintings, crucifixes, and statues from the time period that truly show the history of Santa Ines.
Gardens and Cemetery
After visiting the chapel, be sure to step outside and explore the grounds. Mission Santa Ines has a lovely garden filled with plants of all kinds, with the centerpiece being a peaceful fountain. As you walk through the garden, be sure to take note of the original seminary floor and the statues that reside in the niches. In addition to the garden is the cemetery, which has about 1,700 people buried there, including members of the clergy.
Explore This Historical Mission in Solvang
The Mission Santa Ines is an important part of California history. It is a beautiful site to visit in Solvang, for both visitors that have a personal connection to the Catholic church and for those who simply have an appreciation for history.