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Friday, 01 June 2012 21:16

Do You Know That...?

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California boasts an ancient Spanish heritage forgotten, too often, on both sides of the Atlantic.

Two and a half centuries before the U.S. incorporated California into its territory, an Extremaduran, Sebastián Vizcaíno, had already taken possession of these lands on behalf of the Spanish Crown. One hundred sixty-seven years later, Gaspar de Portolà from Lleida, was the first European to see the San Francisco Bay.  Another Spaniard, Seville's Juan Manuel de Ayala, navigated the bay for the first time in 1775 aboard the "San Carlos" and baptized Alcatraz Island. The founding of the city of San Francisco was a quiet event by a Basque descendant, Juan Bautista de Anza, one year later.

The rich history of Spanish presence in California is full of pioneering expeditions and forgetfulness.

“Voyage into the Past” is an attempt to salvage a piece of history about the men and women who helped forge a part of the uniqueness of San Francisco. This is, a tour of the Spanish past of the city of gold fever, earthquakes, cable cars, the Golden Gate, and impossible streets – a  trip to the Spanish roots of this fascinating city.

The oldest building in San Francisco has a Spanish moniker. Mission Dolores Church stands at the intersection of a street of the same name and 16th Street.  Its immaculate adobe walls are an example of resistance and have survived the numerous earthquakes that have rocked a city accustomed to making ends meet on a powder keg, the San Andreas fault. Completed in 1791, it was the sixth of the twenty missions raised by the Spanish missionaries along the California coast. The distance between missions was designed to be a day’s ride on horseback. The missions’ founder was the infamous Majorcan, Fray Junipero Serra, whose memory is still very present in all of California. The Franciscan, born in 1713, was the first evangelist in the new lands, now U.S. territory, but he did not live to see his work finished, as he died seven years before it was completed. The missionary traveled with the expedition of Juan Bautista de Anza, a Basque descendant - his grandparents were from Hernani, that moved overland from present-day Arizona to northern California, crossing Apache Territory from the Sonora Desert to the Colorado River.

Last modified on Wednesday, 06 June 2012 23:52
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