Location: 3080 Rio Road, Carmel
Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday thru Saturday; 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays
Cost: $6.50 adults; $4 seniors; $2 children 7 and up; free for children under 6.
More information: www.carmelmission.org or (831) 624-1271

San Carlos Borroméo de Carmelo Mission — Carmel Mission — is a standout among the missions that dot the state, both in style and substance.

Established in 1771, it was the second in the chain, but became the headquarters for the importation of Christianity to California. It also was the home, and later the burial place, of Junipero Serra, the father of the missions.

In recognition of its architecture and influence, Pope John XXIII in 1961 designated the mission's church a basilica, the highest rank. In 1987, Pope John Paul II visited the mission in tribute to Serra.

Serra originally founded the mission at the site of the present Royal Presidio Chapel (San Carlos Cathedral) in Monterey, but a year later moved it to a bank of the Carmel River. Much about the mission has changed since Serra lived and worked there in the late 1700s. But extensive restoration and rebuilding have helped return it closer to the way it was under Serra's successor, Father Fermin Lasuén, in the early 1800s.


While most of the mission churches are built of adobe, Carmel's is built of stone, in keeping with the wishes of Serra, who died before it was built. Visitors today can tour the mission quadrangle and its many parts, including the church, the chapel where daily Masses are still celebrated, the sparse room Serra occupied, and artist Jo Mora's monument to the priest.