- June 3, 1770
- Mission Carmel
- Active Roman Catholic Church designated a Minor Basilica in 1961
- San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, headquarters of the California missions, was founded on June 3, 1770. The stunning Mission Carmel church was completed in 1797. This mission contains a great deal of significant art and original artifacts. The Serra Memorial Cenotaph (sculpted by Jo Mora in 1924) is a special attraction.
3080 Rio Rd
Carmel, CA 93923
- 831-624-3600 (Gift shop/mission)
- 831-624-1271 (Rectory)
- Adults: $6.00
- Seniors (65+): $4.00
- Children (7+): $2.00
- Children 6 and under: free
Guided Tours with knowledgeable docents are available to groups of 15 or more at a cost of $8.00 a person. These should be scheduled: call 831-624-1271, Ext. 213.
For self-guided tours, the mission provides a brochure with a summary history and description of the grounds. These brochures are available in English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Polish, Russian, Portuguese, Flemish, Korean, Japanese and Chinese.
School Tours. The mission requires that a form be completed (see http://www.carmelmission.org/museum/tours/schools-form.php) and any visit coordinated with the docent office.
- 8:30 a.m. at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel
- 5:30 p.m. Vigil Mass held at the Carmel Mission Basilica
Sunday Masses (all held at the Carmel Mission Basilica):
- 7:30 a.m. Quiet Mass at Dawn
- 9:15 a.m. Children's Mass
- 11:00 a.m. Solemn Choir Mass
- 12:45 p.m. Mid-Day Mass
- 5:30 p.m. Mass
Weekday Mass (held at Blessed Sacrament Chapel):
- 8:30 a.m.
Weddings and Other Special Services
The Parish publishes extensive information on the requirements for and scheduling of weddings at http://www.carmelmission.org/parish/weddings/.
Weddings are held on Fridays and Saturdays at the times and location noted below:
- Friday at 2:00 p.m. at the Mission Basilica Church (seats 450)
- Saturday at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., and 3:00 p.m. at the Mission Basilica Church
- Saturday at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel (seats 70)
The parish has a wedding planner/wedding day coordinator, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 831-624-1271.
One of the best views of this mission is from the elevated pathway on the far right of the large parking area in front of the mission. This gives you a panoramic view of Mission Carmel.
You begin your tour in the front courtyard, which contains an inviting fountain, and a statue of the Junipero Serra, the founder of the mission.
The mission cemetery is on the side of the church. The curator who guided the mission restoration for almost five decades (Sir Harry Downie) and his wife are buried in the cemetery.
The front courtyard also offers a good view of the mission’s two dissimilar bell towers, one with a Moorish-style dome. The larger tower holds nine bells.
You enter the church from the front courtyard.
The interior of the church has been extensively restored.
The first two Father-Presidents of the mission, Junipero Serra and Fermin Francisco de Lasuen are buried side by side near the sanctuary of the mission.
One of the most popular mission attractions is the elaborate Serra Memorial Cenotaph (a monument not a tomb), sculpted by Jo Mora in 1924. This shows life-sized figures of Fr. Serra and three other pioneer Missionaries.
The second (rear) courtyard contains the original mission fountain (SCBV08) and a large wooden cross, recreated on the site where fragments of the cross erected by Fr. Serra during the mission restoration
Tips for Visitors
It is easy to be overwhelmed by this mission. By all means, wander initially but a systematic, second tour is warranted as it is easy to miss certain attractions.
Be sure to visit the Orchard House, c. 1774, which is the oldest residential dwelling in California, and now contains informative displays. (It is located off the front courtyard
Other Historic Attractions
If you are driving to Carmel from San Francisco try to set aside two to three full days to visit both this mission and Mission San Juan Bautista, two of the ‘must not miss’ missions in California
The town of Carmel is a destination that most visitors will enjoy and where many stay.