San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo

San Carlos Borroméo de Carmelo Mission

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.

Facts About This Mission

General Information

San Carlos Borroméo de Carmelo

Founded:
June 3, 1770
Also Called:
Mission Carmel
Current Status:
Active Roman Catholic Church designated a Minor Basilica in 1961
Summary:
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.

Visitor Information

Address

3080 Rio Rd
Carmel, CA 93923
United States

Get Directions
Phone
  • 831-624-3600 (Gift shop/mission)
  • 831-624-1271 (Rectory)
Hours
Fees
  • Adults: $6.00
  • Seniors (65+)$4.00
  • Children (7+): $2.00
  • Children 6 and under: free
Tours

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.

Church Services

 Saturday:

  • 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 liz@carmelmission.org or by phone at 831-624-1271.

Unique Attractions

San Carlos Mission ComplexOne 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. 

Serra Statue from side with best light 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.

Downie Graves 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. 

Door to church 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.

Carmel main altarOne 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.

Serra memorial cenoraphThe 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.  

Additional Information

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