|UNITED STATES OF AMERICA|
San Antonio is situated at an elevation of 196 m on the San Antonio River. San Antonio is the county seat of Bexar County and has a population of about 1.2 million (2004). It is thus the second-largest city in Texas and eighth in the United States. The San Antonio metropolitan area has a population of about 1.8 million (2003), the third-largest in Texas.
A Spanish expedition reached the area in 1691. The place, which later was the site of the San Juan Capistrano Mission, was named San Antonio de Padua to commemorate the memorial day of St. Anthony, 13 June. In May 1718, Martín de Alarcón led the expedition that founded San Antonio de Valero Mission (later known as The Alamo) and San Antonio de Béxar Presidio, named for Viceroy Balthasar Manuel de Zúñiga y Guzmán Sotomayor y Sarmiento, Marquess of Valero and second son of the Duke of Béxar (Béjar). In 1731, three additional missions, Nuestra Señora de la Purisima Concepción de Acuña, San Francisco de la Espada, and San Juan Capistrano, were founded along the San Antonio River. The Battle of the Alamo took place in 1836, and eventually the town would grow to encompass the embattled mission.
Mission San José (San José y San Miguel de Aguayo) was founded in 1720. It was named for Saint Joseph and Don José de Azlor y Virto de Vera, Marqués de San Miguel de Aguayo, the governor of the Province of Coahuila and Texas at the time. It was built on the banks of the San Antonio river several miles to the south of the earlier mission, San Antonio de Valero (the Alamo, see below). San José, as it became known, was the largest of the missions in the area. At its height, the community contained about 300 Indian who had converted to the Christian faith. Viewed as the model among the Texas missions, San José became known as the "Queen of the Missions". Its imposing complex of stone walls, bastions, granary, and magnificent church was completed in 1782. Most of the mission complex fell into dereliction during the 19th century, some structures even collapsed. During the 1920s and 1930s parts of the former structures were reconstructed. The belltower of the church, which is depicted on the tumbler, collapsed in 1928 but was later restored.
The Alamo is probably the best-known tourist attraction in San Antonio. The San Antonio de Valero Mission was founded in 1724. By the end of 1718, many Indians of the Jamrame, Pamaya, and Payaya tribes had joined the mission, which had been originally located at the site of present-day Chapel of Miracles south of San Pedro Springs. In 1724 the mission was moved to its present site. After 1765, the missionary activity began to wane and in 1793 the mission was abandoned. In 1803, the abandoned compound was occupied by the Second Flying Company of San Carlos de Parras, a company of Spanish soldiers from Álamo de Parras, Coahuila, Mexico. It is believed by some historians that the name "Alamo" derives from this. An alternate theory of the origin of the name is that it derives from the Spanish word "álamo" (cottonwood), after the grove of nearby trees. In Arabic, which provided many loanwords into Spanish, "alamut" means "fortress".
The building was occupied by Mexican forces almost continuously until December 1835, when it was surrendered to Texan forces by General Martín Perfecto de Cos. Two months later, on 23 February 1836, Colonel William B. Travis entered the Alamo with a force that later totaled approximately 187 men. Approximately 5,000 Mexican soldiers under the command of General Antonio López de Santa Anna laid siege to the fortress for 13 days. The siege climaxed on 6 March and resulted in the death of most Texan defenders. After the siege, the building was nearly in ruins. Little attempt was made to restore it, and on 13 January 1841, the Republic of Texas passed an act returning the church of the Alamo to the Roman Catholic Church. After the annexation of Texas, the United States claimed the ruined building, which was used for quartermaster purposes by the Army until the Civil War. During the Civil War the Confederacy used the building, but after the war, the United States government reclaimed the building and used it until 1876.
The ownership of the building was in dispute for much of the later half of the 19th century. On 23 April 1883, the State of Texas officially purchased the church building from the Catholic Church and gave to the city of San Antonio with the provision that the city should pay for the care of the building. The building has been restored on several occasions, most notably for the Texas Centennial in 1936.
Mission Conception (Nuestra Señora de la Purisima Concepción de Acuña) was named in honor of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and Juan de Acuña, the Marqués de Casafuerte. The Marquess was Viceroy of New Spain (Mexico) when the mission transferred to the San Antonio River area. Originally founded in 1716 in what is now eastern Texas, the mission was one of six developed by Franciscans to serve as a buffer against the threat of French incursion into Spanish territory from Louisiana. After a tenuous existence and several moves, the mission was transferred to its present site in 1731. The stone church was dedicated in 1755, and today appears very much as it did over two centuries ago.
[Texts modified from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Antonio,_Texas, http://texas.i-found-it.net/, http://www.nps.gov/saan/visit/MissionSanJose.htm, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alamo_Mission_in_San_Antonio, http://www.nps.gov/saan/visit/MissionConcepcion.htm]