The Fiesta Captital

Written by Randy Watson

What is there in this city that makes it the fiesta capital?

History, culture, fun and excitement abound in this city of the Wild West.

The city of San Antonio started out as an old Spanish mission in the 18th century. That old mission, San Antonio de Valero, became known as the Alamo, where 200 defenders died to the last man defending it from the Mexican Army of General Santa Anna. The chapel of Alamo and the Long Barracks are still standing, right at the heart of downtown San Antonio. It is one of the country's top tourist destinations.

Now, the hallowed grounds of the Alamo are a National Historic Landmark.  Visitors can visit the Alamo and stand at the spot where the brave defenders of the Alamo had their last stand. The original foundation stones near the stairway leading down to the Paseo del Rio can still be seen. The location of the Palisade, a section of the fort defended by David Crockett and the Tennessee Volunteers, is marked in the plaza with paving stones. The north wall where William B. Travis was killed now lies under the U.S. Post Office Building.

San Antonio de Valero is not the only Spanish mission in the area. A chain of missions were established along the San Antonio river, and the missions now are part of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, including Mission San Jose, Mission Concepcion, Mission San Jose, and Mission San Juan Capistrano.  The missions were founded as part of the Spanish attempts to colonize the natives and gain a foothold on Texas before the French could encroach in from Louisiana. Guided tours, Museums, Shows, Bookstores and other activities are some of the attractions of the Park.

Directly across from the Alamo are some of the more memorable places to visit in San Antonio, including the Guinness World Record Museum, Ripley\'s Believe It Or Not Haunted Adventure and Davy Crockett\'s Tall Tales Museum. The Guinness World Records Museum is 10,000 square feet of exhibits featuring videos, games, artifacts and exhibits that bring the book to life. Ripley\'s is a ride through a haunted house with multi million dollars worth of special effects designed to terrify even the bravest souls. Davy Crockett\'s Tall Tales Museum is a theme park type ride through the life and times of Davy Crockett as told by Davy himself.

The River Walk at San Antonio, or the Paseo del Rio, is the second most famous attraction of San Antonio. The river level is a whole different area of San Antonio, a series of cobblestone walkways around the San Antonio River. The river level is pedestrian level one story down from the traffic at downtown level. It connects a lot of the city\'s tourist attractions, including Alamo Plaza, HemisFair Park, and Rivercenter Mall,  and features towering trees and lush gardens. Boat rides on the San Antonio River are also a popular way to see the River Walk.  Hotels, Restaurants and other establishments also abound in the river walk level.