Spanish Colonial Architecture along the Camino Real de los Tejas

The San Antonio missions are the focal point of an important Hispanic cultural landscape that extends from Mexico City to Louisiana, along the Caminos Reales, a series of historic roads established by Spain’s royal government. Along the San Antonio River in eighteenth-century Texas, five Franciscan missions, a presidio (military fort) and a villa (town) were constructed, bequeathing the 21st century with a jewel, recently recognized by UNESCO as meriting World Heritage status. In 2016-2017, Dr. Shelley E. Roff partnered with UTSA’s Center for Archaeological Research to complete the first phase of a long-term project to document the extant remains of this architecture and our Spanish colonial heritage in Texas. The project involves the study of the surviving architecture, its cultural artifacts and historical texts, as well spatial analysis and digital reconstructions. In this first phase of the project, the team developed the Spanish Colonial Construction Tools, Hardware and Materials Database and a series of GIS maps, which inventory the construction-related artifacts from 31 colonial sites in Texas and Louisiana. Our long-term objective is to identify, conserve and publish information on the colonial-rea heritage housed in U.S. and Mexican archaeological collections. Ultimately, this project is designed to promote an understanding and appreciation of the shared history and cultural ties between Tejano, Latino and European-descendent communities in south central Texas and with their Mexican neighbors. 

Detail of map by Francisco Álvarez Barreiro, 1728. Copyright © The British Library; All Rights Reserved; Additional MS. 17,650.b.