Carmel Mission

A short hour long visit to the Carmel Mission near Carmel CA takes you back in time to the 1700's when Father Junipero Serra was president of the California Mission chain.

If you appreciate architecture, photography or California history, this most beautiful example of the mission architectural style will fascinate you! those that want to know more about the history of California and it's missions are in the right location for your adventure. Experience how the Catholic monks prepared for and celebrated mass and see what life was like. Imagine yourself and your family living nearby.

This mission is known to many as the most authentically restored Franciscan mission anywhere along the mission trail.

This mission is also known as the San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission and recent renovations have made this a must see for those interested in California history or in period architecture.

Magnificant Restoration

Construction on this stone mission was begun in 1795 and completed by 1797 just in time for dedication on Christmas day.

Most other missions were built of adobe but stone masons from Spain including Santiago Ruiz who was the brother of the mission's architect Manuel Ruiz worked for years on the mission before his return to Spain.

The mission looked much different when it was constructed than it does today. Remodeled the1820's, the bell towers were added as were the terra-cotta barrel tiles that can be seen on the roof today. To accommodate the additional weight, the church walls were raised three feet to add support for the weight of the new tiles.

In 1812, a huge earthquake hit California's central valley destroying Mission Capistrano  in Southern California and took the lives of many who were attending church services. The Carmel Mission was not damaged, but the incident at the Capistrano Mission raised serious concerns for those near the Carmel Mission and radical changes were made to the parabolic ceiling to address the concerns.

As a result there was an abundant amount of stone left from the changes and a new Bethlehem chapel was built and the towers were reinforced.

Originally, the interior of the mission and in the Basilica was much more ornate with over twenty statues and additional altars.

Amazingly, the furniture is original, as are most of the paintings that were removed for a time when concern arose about the integrity of the structure. Paintings were kept secure in the Monterey Presido Chapel not far away.

Museum Galleries And A Courtyard To Tour

The church is a registered National Historic Landmark and the Basilica is the most revered part of this church where Sunday services are carried out here for the local congregation. The room is authentic with its thirty foot ceilings and five foot thick walls that were needed at that time to support the huge structure.

There are four galleries and a courtyard that are open for individual tours, or if reserved ahead, a docent led tour can be arranged for larger groups.

The Harry Downie Museum

Harry Downie was a man of prominence an was an instrumental force in the  planning and funding of the restoration of this San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission.

Interpretive displays, art and period pieces guide you through the story of the love and dedication many of the area residents felt for the efforts to gently restoration this beloved mission.

Jo Mora Chapel Gallery

The travertine and bronze sculpture "Serra Memorial Cenopath" is kept in this museum which also contains traveling art exhibits.

Here you will find additional of period art that depicts more of the history and drama that was part of life far away from the city.

Convento Museum

The Convento Museum is a place revered because it houses the cell where Father Junipero Serra died in 1784.

Artifacts and interpretive displays highlight his life and ambition to bring his faith to the west coast.

Munras Family Heritage Museum And Courtyard

This museum is located behind the Basilica and highlights the heritage of the Munras of Montery prominent families. Prominant heirlooms and keepsakes are on display and remind visitors about their own family tradition and heritage. 

Step into the courtyard and see if you experience the tranquil and restful feeling many visitors describe while in this courtyard.

Carmel Mission Visitors Center

The Carmel Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission is open too the general public Monday Thru Saturday 9:30 to 5:00 and Sunday 10:30 to 5:00 PM after the celebration of mass for local parishioners.


$6.50 Adults

$4 Seniors

$2 Children 

If you want to contribute to the ongoing restoration of this mission, there is a very small gift store where you can purchase a token reminder of your visit.

The mission has been designed for wheelchair accessability. 

Many Things To Do Near The Carmel Mission

The Carmel Mission is one of many things to do while your are enjoying your stay along California's Carmel coast.

Let us know about your visit to this unique historic symbol of life hundreds of years ago. Share your pictures and add your comments to our Carmel Mission blog page. We may post your pictures as well to help others who plan to visit this area. p

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