Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, San Luis Obispo

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, San Luis Obispo (must see)

Old Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa holds a significant place in the history of Central California. Established on September 1st, 1772, by Father Junipero Serra, it is the fifth mission in the chain and is named after Saint Louis, Bishop of Toulouse.

The mission's founding followed an expedition where the explorers stumbled upon the Valley of the Bears, known as La Cañada de Los Osos. When food supplies were scarce at the existing missions in California, an expedition was sent to hunt for meat in the valley. The local Indians, grateful for the soldiers' assistance in eliminating bears, traded edible seeds in return for the meat. Father Serra recognized the potential of the region and decided it would be an ideal location for the fifth mission. While the city of San Luis Obispo has since evolved and is no longer a bear-inhabited territory, a statue of a grizzly bear in the mission plaza serves as a reminder of its earlier days.

In 1776, a devastating fire broke out at the mission when an Indian fired a flaming arrow onto one of the mission buildings. This event prompted the fathers to start producing roof tiles locally to reduce the risk of future fires. Over time, the mission underwent modernization and adaptation to changing needs. For example, what was once the fathers' soup kitchen now serves as a youth center.

Remarkably, Old Mission San Luis Obispo has remained on its original site and has never had to relocate. The mission's walls, reaching heights of 50 to 60 feet, were constructed according to Vatican law, which required churches to be as tall as the local trees—in this case, the pine trees. The mission's unique architecture features a long secondary nave that forms an L-shaped church, making it the only mission in California with this distinctive layout.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in San Luis Obispo. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa on Map

Sight Name: Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa
Sight Location: San Luis Obispo, USA (See walking tours in San Luis Obispo)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in San Luis Obispo, California

Create Your Own Walk in San Luis Obispo

Create Your Own Walk in San Luis Obispo

Creating your own self-guided walk in San Luis Obispo is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
San Luis Obispo Introduction Walking Tour

San Luis Obispo Introduction Walking Tour

San Luis Obispo, or SLO for short, is a lovely Californian city with a strong Spanish heritage. Situated in the heart of the state's central coast, this hidden gem is known for its ability to “captivate the soul with its allure of beautiful natural setting, vibrant downtown area, and cultural scene.”

The region's history dates back thousands of years to the Chumash Native American...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.9 Km or 0.6 Miles
San Luis Obispo Historical Buildings Walk

San Luis Obispo Historical Buildings Walk

Architecture – the thoughtful making of space. One of the timeless values of historical buildings is that they continue to shape people long after the people shaped them originally. In the context of San Luis Obispo's historic architecture, it reminds us of the thoughtful design and craftsmanship that went into creating the buildings that still stand as symbols of the city's enduring...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 Km or 2.4 Miles