While in San Luis Obispo we visited the mission. I loved the old Spanish architecture and I became interested in the history of the California missions.
Between 1796 and 1823 the Spanish catholics of the Franciscan Order established 21 missions along the Californian coast from San Diego in the south to Sonoma in the north. Each mission was a days trip apart, on horseback. The idea was to convert the native indians to Christianity.
When Mexico gained independence they shut down the missions and sold them privately. Later the US government gave the missions back to the catholic church. The missions have been restored and they are among the states oldest buildings and are the most visited historic structures.
San Luis Obispo De Tolosa was completed in 1794. It occupies a whole block in the downtown area. After it was closed down it was owned by the Mexican government. Now it is a parish church.
A week later we were in Sonoma near San Francisco and I visited the mission there.
San Francisco Solano de Sonoma is the most northern mission. It was the only mission established after Mexico gained independence. It was used to protect Mexican land against Russian influence.
It was badly damaged in the earthquake. Today it has been restored and it is part of Sonoma State Historic Park.