360 Degree Architectural and Historical Views Video Series
Welcome! To begin watching the 360 Degree View Video Series, scroll down and click play. The videos may be viewed using a computer, mobile device or VR headset. We hope you have fun and learn something new!
Related videos have been grouped together into playlists. Each playlist also includes a description of what you will see in each video. Use the map to follow the video locations on the Mission grounds while you watch.
Duration: Approximately 3 minutes (per video clip)
Gatehouse and Front Courtyard
VIDEO CLIP #1: LOOKING INTO HISTORIC DOWNTOWN FROM GATEHOUSE (CIRCA 2013)
This view from outside the Mission’s ground welcomes visitors to the historic downtown of the city of San Juan Capistrano. The text on walls of the Mission Gatehouse (built in 2013) let visitors know that Mission San Juan Capistrano is “Worth a Visit.”
VIDEO CLIP #2: FRONT COURTYARD VIEW FROM THE FOUNDING DOCUMENT (CIRCA 1976)
The Front Courtyard of Mission San Juan Capistrano is the first place you see when you enter the Mission through the Gate House. The beautiful gardens highlight the architecture and history of the landmark’s buildings and grounds. Shown here is a bronze replica of the Mission’s founding document, which was written by Father Junípero Serra when he and a small accompanying group founded the Mission.
VIDEO CLIP #3: OLIVE MILLSTONE (CIRCA 1930S)
This unconventional two-wheel olive mill was built around the 1880s and reconstructed in the 1930s. These large circular stones were used for crushing olives in preparation for making olive oil. Two men pushing at both ends of a bar attached to the center post rolled the stones over the olives.
VIDEO CLIP #4: NATIVE AMERICAN GRINDING STONE (CIRCA BEFORE 1700)
Acjachemen were hunter-gatherers who lived expertly off the land. Acorns served as their staple food course. Before acorns were eaten, they were cracked open and ground down into a fine flour-like powder using grinding stones like the historic stone found under the oak tree in the Mission’s Front Courtyard. After this, the acorn flour was mixed with water and heated in a basket by a hot stone to make wiiwish, or acorn porridge.
VIDEO CLIP #5: SOLDIERS BARRACKS (CIRCA 1791)
Located the building behind the Olive Mill this building was originally built in 1791 as a place for soldiers at the Mission to sleep. A major portion of this structure has been rebuilt after the building fell into disrepair. Soldiers were hired not only to protect the Mission’s occupants but to explore the local area, to hunt for food, and to help the padres teach new jobs to the native people who joined the Mission.
South Wing Museum Rooms
VIDEO CLIP #6: PADRES BEDROOM (CIRCA LATE 1700S)
This room has been decorated to look like one that a Padre or Mission guests might occupy during a stay here. Simple furniture would have been common at the Mission while it was still part of New Spain. Like most of the rooms in the Mission, this room was originally constructed out of just adobe bricks and wood.
VIDEO CLIP #7: PADRES DINING ROOM (CIRCA LATE 1700S)
This room has been decorated to depict what the dining room for Franciscan padres would have looked like, displaying foods commonly found at a mission as well as fruits and vegetables brought to New Spain by the Spanish. The plates on the table are replicas of historic
dish fragments discovered on-site. Can you spot the special copper pot used to make hot chocolate? This was one of the few luxuries enjoyed at the Mission.
VIDEO CLIP #8: ADOBE BRICK DISPLAY (CIRCA EARLY 1800S)
Do you see the wall that looks like it has melted away? This is what happens when weathering and erosion slowly wear away adobe bricks over time. Also on display here are large brick molds that were used to shape wet adobe before it was laid out in the sun to dry. Adobe is made using four ingredients: water, sand, dirt, straw and cow poop. Most of the Mission buildings were constructed using adobe bricks.
VIDEO CLIP #9: OUTDOOR KITCHEN (CIRCA 1790S)
This outdoor kitchen area was used to prepare the enormous quantities of food required to satisfy the needs of native people who had joined the Mission community. Large cauldrons or kettles were placed over the four circular brick areas for cooking. The main midday meal was pozole, a thick stew consisting of meat and vegetables. The morning and evening meals were atole, a nutritious gruel made of corn.
VIDEO CLIP #10: INSIDE THE OUTDOOR KITCHEN (CIRCA 1790S)
This is the view from inside one the outdoor kitchen’s ovens. The oven is made out of fired bricks, bricks that required baking in an oven instead of drying in the sun like adobe bricks. There would have been large kettles to cook vast amounts of food at a time for the native population at the Mission.
VIDEO CLIP #11: CATALAN FURNACES (CIRCA 1790S)
The Catalan furnace is named after the region of Catalonia, Spain where the furnace was developed in the eighth century. This is the oldest metal furnace in California. Hidden for many years, it was excavated in 1935 by Father Arthur Hutchinson, the Mission pastor at that time. The furnace has the capability of reducing iron ore into iron that would be used for making tools, hardware, and metal equipment. The reduction of iron ore to iron requires higher temperatures than merely heating iron for the purpose of hammering it into desired shapes.
VIDEO CLIP #12: INSIDE THE CATALAN FURNACES (CIRCA 1790S)
This is the view from inside the Catalan furnace. The shapes of the brickwork furnaces are inverted truncated cones. Air was supplied by bellows and was directed through blast pipes that ran from the top of the furnace downward at an angle to the charcoal inside the hearth. The water trough at the base could have been used as a power source for supplying air to the furnaces. The blacksmith would shape the metal into tools, hardware, horseshoes and other metal products.
VIDEO CLIP #13: TANNING VATS (CIRCA 1790S)
Cattle were raised for many reason including their meat, their fat, and their hides. Cow hides were turned into leather by a process called tanning. After a cow was slaughtered and the hide was removed and then soaked in an acidic solution in the tanning vats shown here.After months of soaking, stretching and rinsing leather was made. Cow hides were so valuable they become known as California Bank Notes or California Dollars.
VIDEO CLIP #14: TALLOW COOKING STOVE (CIRCA 1790S)
This is where cow fat was cooked down and turned into tallow. Tallow was the main ingredient of both candles and soap during both the Spanish and Mexican periods. Since the Mission ran large herds of cattle, and a single steer could yield over 100 pounds of fat, there was no shortage of tallow.
VIDEO CLIP #15: CENTRAL COURTYARD VIEW OF NORTH WING BUILDING (CIRCA LATE 1700S)
Originally the North Wing served as a warehouse and a space for artisan shops. The North Wing was one of the buildings that deteriorated after
the Missions were secularized under the Mexican government. The current building was built on the original foundation in the late 1920s and was used
as a convent and school classrooms. If you turn and face the gardens you may see a bee or butterfly fly by!
VIDEO CLIP #16: CENTRAL COURTYARD VIEW OF THE SOUTH WING BUILDING (CIRCA LATE 1700S)
Always the hub of activity, the Central Courtyard was originally an open, bare dirt work area. This southern view looks to the South Wing Museum Rooms that originally served as the padres quarters at the Mission. Both the fountain, named the “Fountain of the Four Evangelists,” and the Mission’s gardens were installed in the 1930s by resident priest Father O’Sullivan. If you look closely into the fountain you may see some koi fish swim by!
Serra Chapel and Historic Cemetery
VIDEO CLIP #17: SERRA CHAPEL VIEW FROM THE MAIN ENTRANCE (CIRCA 1782)
Serra Chapel is the only remaining Mission church in California in which Father Serra said mass. Original construction was completed in 1782 and restored in the 1920s by Father O’Sullivan. Originally the chapel would have been simply decorated with, with dirt floors and no benches. The red prayer candles seen near the entrance are lit by members of the church community as a way to offer up a prayer of intention.
VIDEO CLIP #18: ST. PEREGRINE’S CHAPEL (CIRCA 1790S)
This special prayer room located within the Serra Chapel is dedicated to St. Peregrine, the patron saint of cancer sufferers. There are red prayer candles and a prayer book, both available for people to offer up prayers of intention. The large statue seen in the center of the room depicts St. Peregrine.
VIDEO CLIP #19: SERRA CHAPEL VIEW FROM CENTER (CIRCA 1782)
Paintings depicting the Stations of the Cross hang on the walls of the chapel. Decorations painted directly onto the walls and ceiling have been restored to replicate original decor creative by native members of the church community. The large painting in the center of the chapel depicts Station XII and is over 214 years old. This painting was discovered hidden beneath a replica painting in Serra Chapel for more than 40 years.
VIDEO CLIP #20: SERRA CHAPEL VIEW OF THE ALTAR AND RETABLO (CIRCA 1923)
When Father O’Sullivan decided to restore Serra Chapel, he acquired the golden retablo, from the Bishop of Los Angeles. The retablo was originally
from Barcelona, Spain and is estimated to be over 400 years old, older than the Mission itself. It is made from hand-carved wood and covered with gold leaf. In the center niche above the altar, holding a Crusader’s banner is St. John of Capistrano, (San Juan Capistrano), the patron saint of this Mission.
VIDEO CLIP #21: HISTORIC LANDMARK MISSION CEMETERY (CIRCA 1781-1850)VIDEO CLIP #21: HISTORIC LANDMARK MISSION CEMETERY (CIRCA 1781-1850)
This cemetery was used between 1782 and 1850. No one has been buried in this cemetery since the early 1850s, except for Father John O’Sullivan who was buried there in 1934. The original area of the cemetery included the area seen here and extended beyond the outer wall. The names of over 3,400 individuals buried in this cemetery have been carefully recorded. The tall monument topped by the cross is a memorial to “those who built the Mission” (meaning the Acjachemen who were a part of the original Mission community) and was commissioned by Father O’Sullivan and erected in 1924.
Bell Wall and Ruins of the Great Stone Church
VIDEO CLIP #22: SACRED GARDEN WITH A VIEW OF THE BELL WALL (CIRCA 1920)
The Sacred Garden was created by Father O’Sullivan in the 1920s. With the Great Stone Church ruins to the left, the original Sala building to the right, and the campanario (bell wall) in front of you, this garden space and picturesque fountain is a peaceful place on the Mission grounds. The bells, seen here from the back of the bell wall, were originally hung in the bell tower of the Great Stone Church and were relocated to this wall after the 1812 earthquake.
VIDEO CLIP #23: RUINS OF THE GREAT STONE CHURCH, “THE AMERICAN ACROPOLIS” (CIRCA 1806)
The Great Stone Church, now in ruins, was one of the last buildings to be constructed at the Mission. The church was built because a larger church was needed to accommodate the growing population. The church took nine years to build but only stood for six. On December 8, 1812, an earthquake struck during an early morning service bringing down the bell tower, collapsing the roof, and tragically killing forty people.
VIDEO CLIP #24: FOOTPRINT OF THE GREAT STONE CHURCH BELL TOWER (CIRCA 1992)
These two bells are originals that hung in the bell tower that stood about 70 to 80 feet high (almost as high as the palm tree you see here). Archaeological records have shown us that this was most likely the location of the bell tower. These bells have been damaged and cracked and as a result no longer sound like bells should when rung. These bells were likely made in Mexico, just like most of the bells that came to the California Missions during this time.
VIDEO CLIP #25: RUINS OF THE GREAT STONE CHURCH VIEW FROM CENTER (CIRCA 1806)
The Great Stone Church was designed in the shape of a cross. The outline of the two “arms” of the cross can be seen stretching out from the central part of the church ruins. Five domes covered the center part of the church and additional domes covered each of the arms and the transept for a total of seven domes. Unlike most of the Mission’s buildings, the Great Stone Church was made from stones and not adobe bricks.
VIDEO CLIP #26: RUINS OF THE GREAT STONE CHRUCH VIEW FROM ALTAR AREA (CIRCA 1806)
The altar area is under the only remaining dome still intact at the rear of the church. Notches in the wall under the dome once held religious statues. Preservation work began on the ruins in 1989 and was completed in 2004. The walls, domes and sacristy were stabilized to withstand future earthquakes, heavy rains, and strong winds. The Ruins of the Great Stone Church stand today as a memorial to the people who lost their lives in the 1812 earthquake.
VIDEO CLIP #27: BELL WALL AND STATUE OF SAINT SERRA AND THE NATIVE AMERICAN BOY (CIRCA 1914)
“Coming of the Two Cultures” The two small bells hung on the bell wall are originals while the two large bells are replicas of the bells hung in the footprint of the bell tower in the Ruins of the Great Stone Church. The Serra Statue seen here, was commissioned by Father O’Sullivan in 1914 to honor Junípero Serra who founded Mission San Juan Capistrano in 1776. This statue represents the meeting of two cultures: Native American and Western European. This statue is currently located in the “Legacy of Saint Serra” exhibit at the Mission.
VIDEO CLIP #28: BELL WALL VIEW FROM THE GARDENS (CIRCA LATE 1700S)
Bells were used over 200 years ago to summon the community for church, meals, work, and recreation. They were also rung to announce celebrations as well as tolled during solemn events. Today they are rung each morning when the Mission opens, as well as on special occasions. The Missions beautiful gardens have all kids of plants, flower, and fruits to enjoy. Do you see any orange California poppies?
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