Sunday, May 29, 2016

An Arizona Mission


One of my favorite places to visit in Southern Arizona is Mission San Jose de Tumacacori.  It's ragged and crumbling beauty has drawn me (and my camera) to its location many times.  I can still remember my very first visit and how I rounded a corner in the visitor's center and was met with a view out a window that looked more like an oil painting than the reality it was.


Tumacacori is a Franciscan mission built in the 18th century and taking it's name from an even earlier mission that was founded by Father Eusebio Kino in 1691.  That first mission was abandoned and this newer one was built in its place.


Today the mission stands in ruins that have been preserved as the Tumacacori National Historic Park.


The roof of the mission was destroyed many years ago and the effects of weather and scavengers means that little remains of the original interior.  However, when I visit I can still see faint paintings on the walls as in the photo above.


This depiction of what the inside looked like when it was first built gives the guest an idea of the beauty of the space.  A replacement roof was added and the structure was stabilized when restoration began back in the early 20th century.


The inside is dark and cool and a little haunting.  You can see remains of the altar, nave and the choir loft as you walk around the interior.


I like the walk around the exterior of the church and compose photos that combine the rough hewn walls of the church and the outer buildings and that brilliant blue Arizona sky.  If I'm lucky like I was on the day these photos were taken, the sky will be full of giant white clouds to add even more contrast to my images.

8 comments:

Andy said...

Spectacular historic remains.
I would love to explore it.

Thérèse said...

Quite a description and beautiful pictures, you are right, I can imagine very easily an oil painting or even a watercolour! We never made it to this one, something to look forward to.

Jacob said...

A superb tour through what's left of this mission. I cannot recall ever visiting here so I was glad to see your gorgeous photos and read your historical commentary. I can imagine it was quite beautiful when first built!

Julie said...

I enjoyed visiting that place too.

William Kendall said...

It is good that this place has been saved.

Nathalie H.D. said...

What a gorgeous place, I can imagine why you'd go back again and again. You're right, the framed view in your first photo does look like a painting!
It's a pity the interior is now so damaged. I'm glad they at least have an idea of what it was like.

Nathalie H.D. said...

1691 - there wouldn't be many buildings that old in the U.S. It's a gem.

Catalyst said...

That last photo resembles a church on the outskirts of Santa Fe, New Mexico.