Exploring San Diego’s Historic Churches

With its glittering bay, extreme sports and sunny climate, San Diego is known as a haven for active lifestyles. But if the fast-paced California life isn’t your thing, make sure your trip to the city includes trips to these spectacular churches. These more contemplative destinations are beautiful additions to any San Diego tourist’s travel itinerary. Try one of the following three historical churches on your next visit – they’re centrally located, feature gorgeous grounds and services, and best of all, they’re free!

Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala: When visiting religious sites in San Diego, don’t forget the building that gave San Diego its name – the old mission and the first of a historic series of missions throughout California. Located near the San Diego river in the heart of the city, the Mission was founded in 1769 and was the first site of Christianity in California. The current structure was built on the site of the compound, mirroring the original 1813 structure, and features quiet grounds, adobe ruins and ancient church bells. The Mission is an active parish, offering daily masses and tours.

Chapel of the Immaculate Conception: Located in the center of historic Old Town, the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception is the second oldest church in San Diego and arguably its most beautiful. Built in the 1850s, the church has a distinctively Spanish feel, with an all-white exterior, a cool tiled interior featuring colorful stained glass and dark wood, and quiet, contemplative grounds. The Chapel of the Immaculate Conception offers daily masses and is a popular place for local weddings.

St. Paul’s Cathedral: An Episcopal cathedral, this impressive structure is located in Hillcrest in central San Diego. The building, with its romanesque interior and Spanish elements, fosters a contemplative, reflective feel. Follow a Sunday service with a walk through the grounds of nearby Balboa Park for a quiet morning. The Cathedral is open daily, offers weekly services and is the site of many concerts and lectures.

Home to over 1,000 places of worship, San Diego’s religious culture hosts many more options than the churches listed above. However, they serve as a good introduction to the Spanish-style architecture and contemplative beauty of San Diego’s places of worship.

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