The town of San Juan Bautista, California, is located three miles east of Highway 101, approximately 45 minutes by automobile southeast of San Jose, California. Bursting with character - old and new - and bustling with shops, antique stores, one-of-a-kind shopping, galleries, and restaurants, San Juan Bautista is one of Central California’s unique treasures.
Founded as a Euro-American town on June 24, 1797 by Franciscan Padre Fray Fermin Francisco de Lasuen, the town was situated adjacent to the pre-existing Mutsun (Ohlone/Costanoan) village of Popeloutchom.
The original inhabitants of the San Juan Valley were the Mutsun, who have been identified as a branch of the larger Ohlone or Costanoan cultural and linguistic group of the central and northern coasts of California. Original settlements consisted of thatch-covered structures with rock-lined hearths and utensils ranging from groundstone mortars and pestles to arrowheads and related stone tools. Other related peoples in the region are known to have occupied the region over 5,000 years before the present.
The center of town is situated about the Old Mission of San Juan Bautista, which was built over the earliest buildings erected by the Spaniards and Mutsun at the site of Popeloutchom. Though the earliest constructions began in 1797, the main quadrangle that dominated much of the mission period, is largely gone. Constructed in its earliest phase in 1800, and expanded in 1810, 1812, and 1816, the quadrangle and convento were the heart of early mission life. The Old Mission, which has undergone many phases of construction and reconstruction, remains a focal point of community activity.
The state park, and plaza, and the many of the remaining 19th century buildings that surround the Plaza, date from the early to mid-1800's. Many of the family names associated with these early California buildings are still important names within the community life of San Juan Bautista. It is for the preservation of the histories of these early California families, and many of the descendants and later settlers of the San Juan Valley, that the San Juan Bautista Historical Society was formed.
Courtesy of the San Juan Bautista Historical Society
Founded in 1797 by Father Fermin de Lausen, successor to Junipero Serra, mission San Juan Bautista is the 15th of the 21 California Missions. Host to thousands of tourists each year Old Mission San Juan is an active Catholic Parish.
The San Juan Bautista State Historical Park sponsors an Early Days Celebration each year which is always held in June on Father’s Day weekend. The park also celebrates the First Saturday of each month as a Living History Celebration with activities conducted by docents including spinning, candle making, dancing, loom weaving and much more. Sponsored by the Plaza History Association, (831) 623-2454.
Walking, biking, and horseback riding trails.
Please visit the city website for more information or call the chamber office at 831-637-5315