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The Alamo

Formerly: Mission San Antonio de Valero
Built: 1718
Renovated: 1724
Renovated: 1758
Renovated: 1801
Renovated: 1850
Type: Holy Place
Location: 310 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, United States
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F or all the hype surrounding this building, it's a lot smaller than you'd expect -- about the size of a small supermarket. Still, this simple stone building is perhaps the most important cultural and historic site in the state of Texas. This is what's left of the mission where Texas settlers held out against the Mexican Army before being massacred in 1836 during the Texas Revolution. It is actually an Army that gave the mission its common name. Spanish soldiers from San Jose y Santiago del Alamo Parras were stationed here, giving it the name "Alamo." The destruction during the siege has reduced the mission to just a couple of buildings, but the original boundaries of the settlement are evident in paving stones that can be traced through the plaza and the city streets. Inside, no photography is permitted because the building is treated as a shrine to those who fought and died here. After changing hands from the Catholic Church to the United States Army to the State of Texas, it now belongs to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, who administer it with all the zeal the first missionaries did. Artifacts of that era are on display, and though entry is free, a donation is appreciated.

  • An exact "stone-for-stone" replica of the Alamo exists in Houston, Texas. It is at the corporate campus of the Kwik Kopy office services chain. The building is used for company meetings.
  • In February, 2000 workers trying to figure out where to put a new display case noticed a splotch of color on one wall of the sacristy. Upon further investigation they discovered frescoes that were painted in the 1700's and lost for 300 years. They were preserved by a lime-based paint the U.S. Army put on the walls during its occupation in the 1850's. It took seven weeks to restore the artwork which consists of patterns of flowers, fruits, and symbols. No one knows for sure who created the Moorish paintings, but it is suspected that friars taught indians how to paint them in a style used in Mexico City from 1525.
  • February, 2001 - The Daughters of the Republic of Texas announce a major renovation and expansion of The Alamo. It is the first major project in 30 years and will include the construction of an ampitheater, an outdoor classroom, and the renovation of the nearby Gallagher Building for use as offices.
  • 8 May, 2003 - The city is considering a proposal to limit the height of buildings around San Antonio's historic Alamo. The San Antonio Express-News reports the idea is to keep tall buildings from appearing in tourist photographs of the building taken head-on. There is already an historic skyscraper to the left of the Alamo, and a number of billboards and other signs that mar the area.
  • The earliest reports of ghosts at this location was when the Mexican general Santa Ana ordered the mission destroyed. The spirits of the monks who died there are said to have reached out of the walls and threatened his troops. To this day there are occasional sightings of spirits and fantastic creatures coming out of the walls.
  • There is also a legend of six ghosts that defended the Alamo from destruction, one taking the form of a colossus with fireballs in each hand. A depiction of this event is carved into the monument on the other side of the Alamo plaza.
  • Other spirits have been reported in the plaza in front of the Alamo. It is believed this is because so many people died, were buried, or burned in this location. Almost 1,000 documented during Spanish rule. Possibly thousands more since.
  • The ghost of a woman who was killed by lightning outside the Alamo is sometimes seen walking across the plaza.

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