1.  St. Augustine Cathedral

This impressive stucture has a sandstone façade with carved desert plants and lizards.  Inside, you can see a large crucifix which was carved in Pamplona, Spain in the 12th-13th century.   Outside standa a statue of St. Augustine.

Though gone now, the first structure dated back to 1776 when Spanish priests built the "Chapel of the Royal Presidio" as part of the Spanish fort.

In the 1860's, Father Machebeuf was sent to Tucson by Lamy, the Bishop of Santa Fe to suvery the situation in Tucson. He recommended sending a priest for the population of that time of 600.

In 1866 work on the present building began and 100 years later it was restored.

Tours are provided of the Cathedral.


3.  Francisco Garces - 1st Franciscan Missionary to Piman Village

After the Jesuits were expelled from New Spain in 1767, the Franciscan College of the Holy Cross at Querétaro were called to operate the missions to the Pimans, natives who lived in the areas around present day Tucson.   Francisco Graces, born in 1738 and after 1753 having entered the Franciscan Order, volunteered to go to New Spain and operate the mission of San Xavier del Bac.   This was the most remote post in the Spanish Empire at the time.  He served both Bac and Tucson and wrote of those in Tucson, some who were refugees, that they were content as long as he did not make them work as the Jesuits had done. The closest military post when he arrived in 1768 was in Tubac.

Francisco Garces was also known for his explorations of the area.  The first took him to the Gila River.  He became ill and during his absence the mission at Bac was raided by Appaches and the Governor killed.   Other treks took him to the San Pedro River Valley and in 1771 to the Colorado River.   This was the Northern Piman country where he recruited Papagos to move to the mission in Bac.   In 1774, he accompanied Captain Juan Bautista de Anza on the expedition to California.  In 1781 Yuma natives living on the lower Colorado River rebelled against the Spanish colonization and surprised two missions, killing the men including Friar Garces.  He will be remembered as the one who made St. Augustine the patron saint of Tucson.


4.  La Placita

This is a good place to start your self-guided tour of Tucson's historic district.   This colorful area is like a Mexican marketplace.  Enjoy a shaded courtyard with picnic areas and cafes all of which surround the former plaza established in the 19th century.   Enter La Placita market using the footbridges.  Garces Footbridge spans Congress Street between Church and Granada Ave.

6.  Pima County Courthouse

This beautiful Spanish Colonial and moorish styled landmark was the project of a famous Tucson architect, Roy Place and was built in 1929.   The dome is capped with mosaic tiles.  Through the courtyard which is part of this structure runs the location of the east wall of the original Presidio.

The first courthouse was built in 1868 as a one story adobe building.  Just the year before, Tucson had been named the capital of the Arizona territory.   A second capital building was constructed in 1881 in the Victorian style.  By 1912, just before Arizona was to become a state, the capital was moved north but 17 years later, the current landmark was begun.


7. Gate to site of Walled Spanish Presidio

In 1751 when the missions were still led by Jesuit priests, the Native Piman population revolted after they returned from having been recruited to fight with the Spaniards in the Gulf of California.   The Sonoran Governor sent a request to the viceroy in Mexico City to equip a new frontier garrison to defend themselves against the revolts.  The Spanish reaction led to the dislocation of the Piman population.  They were then resettled in Tucson.

In 1775, the irishman Lt. Col. Hugo O'Conor in service to the King of Spain founded the current site of Tucson.  He designated there the Royal Spanish Presidio of Tucson.  The next year Spanish Calvary and Indian scouts under the command of Lt. Col. Juan Batista de Anza at Tubac where brought to the new presidio site to train.

The Franciscan missionary, Francisco Garces, constructed along with his Piman converts, the first substantial building in Tucson, a mission residence with two rounded towers for defense.  The Presidio later repelled several Apache attacks.

The Presidio protected the Xavier Mission at Bac for 80 years.  Prior to the Gasden Purchase of 1854, the Gateway to the Presidio was built of adobe and is now part of the oldest standing structure still in Tucson.  In the 1860s, houses were built in the Presidio area, many owned by prestigious families and government officials.


8.  Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block

Tour five restored homes dating back to the 1860s and located in what would be the northwest corner of the old Presidio.  

Displays are housed in the homes which include Western American Art in the Fish House, Pre-Columbian, Spanish Colonial, and folk art in the Stevens House, displays of early pioneer life in the Plaza of the Pioneers, and period Mexican-style rooms in La Casa Cordova.   See displays of a traditional Mexican Christmas from Nov. through March.

Hours:  Mon. thru Saturday   10:AM to 4: PM
Sunday  Noon to 4:00 PM.
(Closed Mondays from Memorial Day to Labor Day)


10. & 11.  Historic Corbet House and Manning House

These old mansions are part of an elite area known as "Snob Hallow".  The interior of the Corbet House set off by a large lawn and porch, is open to the public.   The Manning House is not open to the public but you can view this beautiful mansion and the statue of Hugo O'Conor on the front lawn as you stroll by.


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