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Mission San Juan Bautista – A colonial experience

Mission San Juan Bautista is unique among the missions for several reasons.

First, it is the widest of the mission churches having three naves or aisles.

Secondly, it is the only California mission with a plaza surviving from its founding.

Finally, there are many historic buildings in the immediate area of the mission which have been preserved from the 19th century.

Mission San Juan Bautista - Vischer

Edward Vischer – 1862
(UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library)

(You can see Vischer’s caption above stating this mission was in Monterey County. That was true in 1862. In 1874 San Benito County was formed from the eastern section of Monterey County.

Mission San Juan plaza

View from the front of the mission across the plaza to the Plaza Hall and the Plaza Stables

Mission San Juan Bautista Quick Facts

Address: 406 Second Street, San Juan Bautista, CA 95045 (San Benito County)
Founded: June 24,1797 (16th in the chain of 21)
Patron Saint: Saint John the Baptist
Map: (Google map – opens in new window)
GPS coordinates: 36.84554, -121.53584
Phone: (831) 623-4528
Gift Shop and Tour Hours: Monday-Sunday 9:30 am to 4:30 pm – CLOSED MAJOR HOLIDAYS – Further information here
Mass times: San Juan Bautista Mission Mass times (opens in new window)

Mission San Juan Bautista main altar and retablo

The mission is still an active Catholic parish and has had an unbroken succession of pastors since its founding. Most of the other missions have had periods when they no longer functioned as active churches.

Old San Juan Bautista Mission is directly adjacent to the San Juan Bautista State Historic Park.


The park includes several structures built in the 1800s. The four main historic museums are the Plaza Hotel, the Zanetta House/Plaza Hall, the Plaza Stables, and the Castro-Breen Adobe. Many of the interiors are arranged as furnished vignettes or with colorful and informative exhibits that help create a unique learning environment for people of all ages. The park also features a blacksmith shop, the historic jail, and an early American settler’s cabin.

Tours The park is open Tuesday through Sunday for self guided visits and also offers guided walking tours by advanced reservation. The park is closed on Mondays. Call 831-623-2753 for information.