Heading northwest from Monterrey, Mexico, we skip over the border and into a state that used to be part of Mexico, Texas. San Antonio is the next stop on our tour of this Small World, and it is a city full of cultural richness and history. The city may be best known for two attractions: The Alamo Mission and the River Walk.
The Alamo is a former Roman Catholic mission and the site of the 1836 Battle of the Alamo. Lasting less than two weeks, the Battle was pivotal in the Texas Revolution, or War of Independence. Starting in October of 1835, the Revolution pitted the Mexican government against the Texas colonists, and led to the establishment of the Republic of Texas. Mexico had encouraged settlers to move into the territory known as Texas to form militias that would provide protection from the indigenous Indians of the area; but slowly, many of the inhabitants actually came from the United States, and so Mexico attempted to take back power over the land from the encroachers. Well, this article isn’t meant to be a history lesson, but long story short, the Lone Star State and its famous flag soon flew over the former Mexican territory.
Back to the Alamo, how easily I get sidetracked. The Alamo was built in the late 18th Century by the Spanish Empire for the education of native people and their eventual conversion to Christianity. It ultimately fell out of use and was taken over by the Mexican army. Then the Alamo was surrendered to the Texan army in 1835 and held by a small number of fighters. In February of 1836, Mexican General de Santa Anna overtook the defenders and destroyed much of the edifice. Attempts to rehabilitate the ailing but historically relevant structure started in 1892. Today, it is one of the key landmarks in San Antonio, welcoming more than 4 million visitors per year.
The River Walk is the other hot spot for tourists to flock to when they come to San Antonio. Technically, it is a network of walking and boating paths along the banks of the San Antonio River, but its origin resides in the response to a horrendous flood in the early 1920s. The River Walk was originally designed as a flood bypass to divert excess water, but it serves a much more scenic use as well. At its inception, the River Walk was about 2.5 miles long, but popularity of the attraction and the desire for businesses to use it as a backdrop forced its expansion. In 2011, it was extended with an addition called the Mission Reach which was also an environmental restoration project along the San Antonio River.
San Antonio is also known for its many cultural events and attractions, such as museums, parks, theaters and zoos. The popular ‘San Antonio Stories’ film series focuses on the “international crossroads” that mark the city as a popular melting pot of global culture. The series adds to the breadth and depth of San Antonio’s reputation as an artistic hub, and features films on the oddities of its culture. For example, a local bike shop that promotes a FrankenBike swap meet, a photographer that turned his hobby of photographing bands into a dynamic career and the ever-popular Dignowity Hill Pushcart Derby. All of these films and many more showcase the uniqueness and charm of San Antonio. Go ahead and check it out for yourself!