Located in Central California, near the coast, is La Purisima Mission. It's one of a string of Spanish missions in the Golden State designed to spread Christianity to the Chumash natives of the region. La Purisima is Franciscan and was established in 1787. The original mission was destroyed by a large earthquake in 1812, and the current one was built a four miles northeast of the old site.
Today the Mission is part of California's State Park system, one of only two old missions no longer directly controlled by the Catholic church. It's unique in that it is an intact Spanish Mission complex. During its heyday, the mission grounds covered 470 square miles and it was home to thousands of sheep and heads of cattle, as well as a few hundred horses and mules. The mission also provided education and training, and was home to over 1000 Chumash Indian converts. The mission was abandoned in the late 19th century.
The State Park today covers around 2,000 acres. The restored mission (restored in the 1930s) includes a church, blacksmith shop, sleeping quarters, gardens and representative livestock enclosures. As such, it provides the best look at what a mission in Old California was like.
La Purisima was designated as a national historic landmark in 1970 and is visited by 200,000 tourists in an average year.
(The Altar in the mission's chapel)
The mission is open daily except on Christmas, New Year's Day and Thanksgiving Day. Winter hours are shorter than summer hours. Check the State Park website before visiting. There is a $6.00 entry fee per vehicle.