San Javier Mission, Loreto BCS Mexico, 37 km up into the mountains in the Puebla of San Javier lies the 2nd oldest mission in the Californias, the San Javier Mission. With it’s beautiful architecture it boasts of having the first glass windows and the first weather vane in Baja. This historical mission still serves the San Javier community. On the way to the mission, you’ll pass miles of open desert and mountains, arroyos with running water, and several small ranches where they grow mangos, grapefruit, oranges, garlic, onions and make fresh goat cheese.
Be sure and stop at an archeological site where you can see some small cave painting and enjoy the running water in the arroyo. Travel up to San Javier can be done in a car, you can rent a taxi or take a tour. Whale Watching The Pacific lagoons of Baja California Sur has long been known as a spectacular location to have a close, intimate experience with the Grey Whale. The Grey Whales migrate from the Bering Sea each year and arrive at the calm, salty waters of the lagoon in late January and stay until the end of March.
Thousands of tourists each year get to have a close encounter with these magnificent creatures, where they can see them up close, watch them “breech”, have the mother’s “present” their babies to the boats and at times get to “pet” them. Magdalena Bay has 2 excellent sites for this experience, Lopez Mateo, and Puerto San Carlos. They are one and a half to and 2 hours away and easily accessible by car, taxi or tour. Arrangements can be made upon arrival.
How To Get There
To get to the town of San Javier, where the church is located take the junction to the dirt road of 37 km which is 7 km south of Loreto, in Kilometer 118 on the Transpeninsular Highway or by plane to the International Airport of Loreto.
The Spanish mission of San Francisco Javier was initially founded by the Jesuit missionary Francisco María Piccolo in 1699 at a spring called Biaundó by the native Cochimí, about 8 kilometers north of the mission’s subsequent location.
The site was abandoned in 1701 because of a threatened Indian revolt but was reestablished by Juan de Ugarte in 1702. Several years later, it was moved to the better-watered present location of the community of San Javier, Baja California Sur, Mexico. The energetic Ugarte constructed dams, aqueducts, and stone buildings. Between 1744 and 1758, Miguel del Barco was responsible for building what has been called “the jewel of the Baja California mission churches” (Vernon 2002:26).
Primarily under the ravages of Old World diseases, the native population declined steadily through the Jesuit period (1699–1768) and then more steeply after the missionaries of that order were expelled from Baja California.
By 1817, the mission was deserted. The church has been restored and is now maintained by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History.