Mission Santa Clara de Asís: Located in California’s Oldest University
Mission Santa Clara de Asís is located smack dab in the middle of Santa Clara University and is the only mission to be part of a school campus. The mission was founded in 1777 as the eighth mission founded by Father Serra. In 1851, the mission became the site of a college, the oldest university in California. Today it is a beautiful spot to visit for history on both the mission and the oldest college. Here is all the information.
- Free to visit
- Must check in at the college to get a visitor parking pass
- Location: 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95053
- Read about all 21 of the California Missions here
- This information is from my visit in 2016
I was confused using Google Maps to get here, but if you get directions to the primary school entrance, then you can just tell them you are visiting the mission, and they will give you a visitor pass to park and tell you where to go. From there, it is easy to find as it is in the heart of the school.
After walking down the main road of the campus, you will see the mission in front of you. Walking up to it provides a beautiful view with the cross right in front and the stunning facade of the mission behind.
There is a bell for the El Camino Real Trail to the left of the chapel building.
Proceeding around the exterior to the left, you will see a few of the remaining pieces of the mission. There isn’t a lot left, but there are the old Adobe walls across from the chapel.
There is another room next to the adobe walls that they use for events and has some old lights in a few of the rooms.
The courtyard there has a big statue of Jesus right in the center surrounded by roses.
There is also a walkway covered in vines planted during the mission’s time.
Going around the back of the chapel, you will find the statue of Father Serra that is at every mission.
On the right side, there is an old cemetery, which looks like a flower garden, with a cross in the middle.
The garden has elevated steps that let you look over the walls and into the stunning area, as you are not able to go in yourself.
From there, you will be back to the front of the chapel and can head inside.
The chapel here is not original; it was rebuilt in the 1930s. Because of that, it is a lot bigger most of the other missions. This chapel is used for events and concerts, so it does not have traditional pews either, just chairs they can arrange as needed.
The chapel is a working church that holds a Mass on the weekends so it can be busy to visit then. I found the lights that hang from the ceiling to be the first thing to catch my eye as they were stunning.
The altarpiece is ornate with lots of gold and white marble. The altar is sandwiched between two large paintings that hang on either side.
Since the chapel is so big, the altar is also a lot bigger than most of the mission altars. I just grabbed a seat in front to stare at it for a little while.
There are a few separated rooms that contain different types of pieces dedicated to various saints as well.
When I was there, the stairs were open, so I went up and got a few photos from the second story, but I don’t think it is common for these to be open.
After sitting in the chapel, I headed out and back to my car. This was the first mission I went to on day five of my missions road trip; you can read more about it here. Be sure to check out this mission if you are in the area as it is free and beautiful.