Santa Barbara

Santa Bárbara Mission

Santa Barbara, founded on December 4, 1786, is the only mission continuously operated by the Franciscans since its founding. This major mission has a distinctive church with a Neoclassical façade, a beautiful Moorish fountain, well-tended gardens, and a large museum. The only restored California Presidio is located in downtown Santa Barbara.

Facts About This Mission

General Information

Santa Bárbara

Founded:
December 4, 1786
Current Status:
Active Roman Catholic Church owned and operated by the Franciscans.
Summary:
Santa Barbara, founded on December 4, 1786, is the only mission continuously operated by the Franciscans since its founding. This major mission has a distinctive church with a Neoclassical façade, a beautiful Moorish fountain, well-tended gardens, and a large museum. The only restored California Presidio is located in downtown Santa Barbara.

Visitor Information

Address

2201 Laguna St
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
United States

Get Directions
Phone
  • 805-682-4149 (Mission/gift shop)
  • 805-682-4713 (Parish)
Hours
  • Open Daily from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. 
  • Closed Thanksgiving and Easter
Fees
  • Adults: $6.00
  • Seniors (65+): $5.00
  • Children (5-15): $1.00
  • Children (4 and under): Free
Church Services

Saturday: 

  • 4:00 p.m. (Vigil Mass)

Sunday: 

  • 7:30 a.m.
  • 9:00 a.m.
  • 11:00 a.m.

Monday - Friday:

  • 7:30 a.m. in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel
Weddings and Other Special Services

Santa Bárbara is a popular site for weddings. There is a minimum of six months' lead time required. Contact the Parish Office for details and to determine date availability (805) 682-4151.

Special Events

The mission is the site of several special events including La Fiesta Pequeña (song and dance with food from local vendors), La Misa del Presidente (Mass followed by a garden reception, with Fiesta attire encouraged) and the I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival (painters, transform the Mission plaza using pastels on pavement to create 150 vibrant and colorful, large-scale images). 

Mission Highlights

1. There are many attractions in front of the mission, to view when you arrive or before you leave.

The Moorish Fountain a. The “Moorish” Fountain was built in 1808 and is the most attractive historic fountain in the mission chain. 

The Mountain Lion b. The reconstructed lavandería (laundry) is just beyond the Moorish fountain. Look for the mountain lion’s head, built by the Chumash, located at the end of the lavandería. 

c. There is a large memorial cross on the front lawn. This is a great spot from which to photograph the church. 

2. Visit the church, either as part of the regular tour or if you have time, after church services.

 

a. The neoclassical church, with twin towers and a magnificent setting was completed in 1820 with one tower. The second tower was added in 1831. 

b. The church is filled with original and noteworthy religious art. A statue of the church’s Patron, Saint Barbara, is located above the altar. 

c. The two largest religious paintings in all of the missions are at Santa Bárbara. One painting, 168" high by 103" wide, depicts the "Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin." It is thought to have originated in the Mexico City studio of Miguel Mateo Maldonado y Cabrera. 

3. Do take the regular tour. Tickets are available in the gift shop. The entrance is directly across from the fountain. The entrance fee is $8.00 for adults, $7.00 for seniors, and $1.00 for youths

a. The ten-room museum, one of the largest among the California mission, has a unique collection of historic artifacts and interpretive displays. There is a reconstruction of an original mission kitchen 

b. The museum includes a Chumash room, which contains a Chumash altar constructed for the 1789 church.

c. The regular tour also lets you view the front courtyard, which has a charming fountain. 

d. There is an entry to church on the tour route.

Rose Garden e. Near the end of the tour, you will be in part of the mission cemetery where Juana Maria, the Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island is buried.  Her story is detailed in Scott O’Dell’s book, Island of the Blue Dolphins and summarized in one of the California Stories on this website. 

f. In the cemetery, above the side entrance to the mission church, there are symbols of death embedded into the wall above the door. 

In addition to self-guided tours, for an additional fee ($8.00 for adults, $7.00 for seniors, and $1.00 for youths 5-15) visitors can take special guided tours. The choices include: 

  • Art & Architecture Tour: (75 minutes) on the art & architecture at Old Mission Santa Bárbara 
  • Historic La Huerta Gardens Tour: (90 minutes). The gardens contain plantings representative of the mission era (1769-1836) 
  • Combination Tours: (2 hours, with roughly 90 minutes on the Basic Tour Route and 30 minutes in La Huerta) 
  • A docent-Guided Tour on the history of Old Mission Santa Bárbara: 90 minutes 

The Huerta Historic Gardens are only available on a special guided tour. They contains plants that were gathered from remnants at early sites, then cloned, grafted, and planted from cuttings and seed. These include olives from Sonoma, grapes from San Gabriel's oldest vines, citrus cloned from original stock, mission-era bananas and sugar cane, Purisima pomegranates, and San Buenaventura's grafted peaches. 

Tips for Visitors

Allow enough time. You can easily spend a half day at Mission Santa Bárbara. The regular tour is a must. Based on the time you have available and your interests, sign up for any special tours early so you can plan your day.

Allow enough time. You can easily spend a half day at Mission Santa Bárbara. The regular tour is a must. Based on the time you have available and your interests, sign up for any special tours early so you can plan your day.

Other Historic Sites

Santa Barbara Presidio Church Interior The Santa Barbara Presidio, located at 123 East Canon Perdido Street. This State Historic Park is only one of the four mission-era presidios which has been restored.

The Santa Barbara Historical Museum, located at 136 East de La Guerra Street in downtown Santa Barbara. There is always relevant art on display.

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, located at 2559 Puesta Del Sol, is about ten minutes from the mission). This museum is particularly useful for its Native American collections. Look for the display of a Chumash Village 

Additional Information

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