San Juan Capistrano

San Juan Capistrano Mission

San Juan Capistrano was founded on November 1, 1776,   This mission, designated the “Jewel of the Missions,” contains picturesque ruins, a distinctive bell wall,  and beautifully landscaped grounds. Mission San Juan Capistrano is a popular destination known for its many special events, particularly “The Return of the Swallows.”  

Facts About This Mission

General Information

San Juan Capistrano

Founded:
November 1, 1776
Current Status:
The mission church (called the Serra Chapel) is part of the Parish properly referred to as the Mission San Juan Capistrano Basilica
Summary:
San Juan Capistrano was founded on November 1, 1776,   This mission, designated the “Jewel of the Missions,” contains picturesque ruins, a distinctive bell wall,  and beautifully landscaped grounds. Mission San Juan Capistrano is a popular destination known for its many special events, particularly “The Return of the Swallows.”  

Visitor Information

Address

26801 Ortega Hwy
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
United States

Get Directions
Phone
  • 949-234-1300 (Mission)
  • 949-234-1360 (Parish Office)
Hours
Fees
  • Adults: $9 (includes free audio tour)
  • Seniors (65+): $8 (includes free audio tour)
  • Children (4 - 11 years): $6 (includes free audio tour)
  • Children (under 3 years): Free
Tours

Guided Tours are offered Monday through Friday at 11:15 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., and on Saturdays & Sundays at 11:15 a.m., 1:00, 2:15 & 3:30 p.m. Call the Mission Gift Shop.

An award-winning Adult Audio Tour “Voices of the Mission” is available in English, Spanish, French, German & Italian.

Church Services

Sunday (Latin Mass):

  • 6:30 a.m.
  • 8:00 a.m.

Monday - Friday

  • 7:00 a.m.
Weddings and Other Special Services

Weddings are held in the Basilica on Fridays and Saturdays. All religious services are managed directly by the Parish. Contact the Parish Office for details. 949-234-1360

Overview

Mission San Juan Capistrano is a unique a destination that contains many historic structures, some special displays, picturesque gardens, and fountains in a front and back quadrangle, and is known for the number and quality of the special and recurring events it offers. 

We recommend that visitors decide whether they will visit the mission when there is a special event (there are over twenty), decide whether they wish to participate in a recurring event, and make sure they allow enough time to see and appreciate all of the historic structures.

In the sections which follow we summarize the special and recurring events, highlight several special attractions and provide some general suggestions.
 

Events

There are regular recurring events at this mission.

  • Garden Tours on Wednesdays at 10:15 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.
  • Koi Fish Feeding each day 12:45 p.m. ($1.00 charge)
  • Native American Basket Weaving on 1st and 3rd Wednesday of every month at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
  • A “Panning for Gold” Event on Saturdays and Sundays at 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. ($3.00 per person charge
  • Adobe Brick Making on Saturdays and Sundays at 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. ($3.00 per person charge

Docent Abe Lincoln In most years Mission San Juan Capistrano also organizes over twenty special, mostly one-day celebrations that range from “Flowers in Bloom Days”  “A Battle of the Mariachis Competition” and an Abraham Lincoln Day. 

The mission also holds a number of Benefit Galas.

An Overall Perspective

Perspective View This is a large complex with front and back courtyards and a unique mixture of historic structures, interesting displays, and scenic views. 

Unique Attractions

Pano old stone church and bell wall As you enter the mission grounds you will see the ruins of the “great stone church” (the largest in the mission chain), which collapsed in a massive earthquake in 1812.

Bell Wall The free-standing Bell Wall (which contains four original bells from the Great Stone Church) has become an icon of the mission era. 

Interior of Serra Church The Serra Church is the oldest historic building in the complex. 

Padres Room San Juan Capistrano has well-laid-out museum rooms and educational displays, including a large diorama and a restored Padre’s room.

Entry to back courtyard You enter the back courtyard thru an arch. The courtyard is beautifully landscaped.

Swallows Poster The Cliff Swallows immortalized in Leon Rene’s famous song When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano still come back in March. The mission holds an “Annual Return of the Swallows Celebration.”

Tips for Visitors

Allow ample time to view this mission. Give some thought to the timing of your visit. During the school year this mission can be crowded mid-day with 4th graders, particularly on Wednesday. The many special events held here hold draw large crowds from all over Southern California.

This mission is more “commercial” than other missions, but the income it receives is used to maintain and expand this special place.

In 2013 the mission opened a new, sizeable Mission Store, which offers an extensive collection of mission books and memorabilia. It also promotes local, national, and international artisans. It can be accessed from the street and from the mission grounds.

Additional Information

San Juan Capistrano, with its beautifully landscaped grounds, with the ruins of the Great Stone Church, and the adjacent bell wall, is one of the most picturesque sites in California. 

 

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