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the frequently photographed grounds in front of the Alamo
Closest available address
300 Alamo Plaza San Antonio, TX 78205
Generally open 9:00am-5:30pm, open till 7:00pm in summer
Best time to visit
Fall, Winter, Spring
The Alamo is well known historic site owned by the state of Texas in downtown San Antonio. The site, which is the most popular tourist attraction in Texas, was once a Spanish mission but is better known for a battle which took place here in 1836 between Texans seeking independence from Mexico and the Mexican Army. Due the valiant stand of the Texas militia against a much larger opponent, the Alamo is considered a shrine in both Texan and US history. In addition to a rebuilt chapel, the site includes a small museum and gift shop. The verdant grounds are graced with large shade trees and some fish ponds.
The Spanish mission on the current Alamo site was developed from 1718-1724. The mission operated till 1793 when it was secularized. It then became a military garrison during which time the name was changed to the Alamo. The garrison was seized by Texas militia during the Texas Revolution. In response, Mexico sent in a large force to suppress the rebellion and this led to the battle at the Alamo in which all American defenders were killed. Not all defenders were killed in action though; the Mexicans offered no quarter to prisoners. After the US gained control of Texas following the Mexican War, the Alamo served as a US military base. It later was used as a warehouse area until being acquired by Texas in 1905 and restored.
The Alamo is popular, so expect some company. Coming here on July 4th was probably the worst date possible for crowds, and there were long lines and a long wait in the wonderful Texas heat. If you can visit other times of the year and during the week, it should help to enhance the experience. As a historic site, the Alamo was disappointing. The main sanctuary was mostly empty – just a few flags and some artifacts in display cases. There was not much of interest to see or write about. Also, no pictures are permitted in the building. An outdoor wall in the courtyard had a historical timeline of the site, which was informative, but you don’t need to come here to learn the same information. The museum was relatively small and so crowded that it was difficult to move around and read the displays. Information there was similar to the timeline. A model of the battlefield in the gift shop is worth a visit as this provides a better sense of the historic Alamo. The current site has been significantly altered over the years, so there is really no “battlefield” experience here. An audio guide is available, but it provided little insight. Guided tours are available for a fee and this could be a better option depending on the quality of the guide. On a side note, the British singer Phil Collins recently donated his sizable private collection of related artifacts to the Alamo, and a museum may be built in the future to display them. A more modern visitor center/museum would definitely be helpful. Since the Alamo is one of those places that everyone visits, the quality of the information and displays may not matter much. This is sacred ground for the deeds that took place here. It works better though as a monument to that past than as a historical site for the present.
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