Photographing Mission San Juan Capistrano

The "Sacred Garden"
The “Sacred Garden”

If you grew up in Southern California, you are sure to have been to San Juan Capistrano Mission some time in your life, maybe to see the famous swallows.  Mary and I have now photographed 15 of the 21 California missions.  San Juan Capistrano has the distinction of being home to the oldest building in California still in use, a chapel built in 1782, known as “Father Serra’s Chapel.”  When visiting this special place, here is what you will see.

There is a new entrance building which is a bit of a turn off as it seems that you are now entering Disneyland.  I am sure with all of the tourist volume this was needed.  However, once inside the mission walls, the outside world fades away.

A portion of the old ruins
A portion of the old ruins

Don’t miss the old ruins, fountain, statue of Father Serra, and gardens in the first court yard.

Father Serra
Father Serra

As you enter the large second court yard, there is another fountain, a single bell tower, the Father Serra Chapel, and the Sacred Garden.

Scared Garden
Scared Garden

The Golden Altar
The Golden Altar
Golden Altar Close-up
Golden Altar Close-up

San Juan Capistrano is easy to get to and has much to see.  It is also very popular, so be prepared for crowds and for “special events.”  The day we were there, the inside courtyard and all of the porches were full of white plastic chairs, so it was pretty ugly.

Click here to see our other blogs about photographing the CA missions.

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