I visited several missions along California’s Central Coast this year, and San Carlos de Borromeo de Carmelo Mission, better known as Carmel Mission, really stands out.
We visited on Christmas Day and the museums were closed. But, mass was just letting out so we had a chance to tour the church and the grounds. The church basilica is beautiful, with a large golden alter and Spanish Colonial religious paintings lining the walls. In addition, there are several shrines depicting religious figures tucked into quiet corners of the church.
Saint Junipero Serra, who led the efforts of Spanish Franciscian priests to eventually establish 21 missions in California (1769-1833), lived and died at Carmel Mission. His remains are buried in the alter of the church and there are several statues of his likeness across the courtyard and on the mission grounds.
The gated mission grounds are spacious, with several garden areas featuring religious statues and monuments. Just outside the church is a cemetery with grassy graves lined in abalone shells.
There are two museums, which we didn’t get to see because they were closed for the holiday. If you are interested in California history, or religious artifacts, be sure to make time to tour Carmel Mission the next time you are in the Monterey area.
Traffic411 Insiders Tip: Take a walk along Carmel beach. There is a path along the ocean offering stunning views of the rugged shoreline and the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course in the distance.
This mission, in Carmel, CA, was home base for Saint Junipero Serra during the time he and his Spanish Franciscan brothers were establishing religious outposts up and down the state. These photos were taken on Christmas Day 2015, when the church and mission grounds were decorated for the holidays (Photos: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411).