Old Mission Santa Ynez

Old Mission Santa Ynez

After the Chumash and before the Danes came to the Santa Ynez Valley, the Spanish laid claim to the place they called Alta California. In 1542, explorer Juan Cabrillo sailed into the Santa Barbara Channel with two ships, charting the area and claiming the coast for the Spanish king.

Franciscan Father Esteven Tapis arrived to found Mission Santa Ines in 1804, the nineteenth of the twenty one California missions. Named it for Saint Agnes, the mission’s goal was to convert the friendly and peace loving, Chumash Indians. After the devastating 1812 earthquake destroyed most of the California missions (including Santa Ines) a new mission was constructed in 1817. At that time there were 920 Chumash living on the mission grounds. But most of the Chumash left the mission in 1824 after a Spanish soldier beat a Chumash boy, causing the local Indians to revolt. Chumash also came from the Santa Barbara Mission and two Indians were killed.

In 1834 all the California missions were secularized and in 1843, Mission Santa Ines was returned back to the Roman Catholic Church. The first California seminary was located here. The mission buildings deteriorated to such a poor condition that the local Donahue family stepped in and made necessary repairs in 1884. A renovation was finally done by Friar Alexander Buckler in 1904.

Today the Old Santa Ines Mission in downtown Solvang, is a vital and active parish church with a congregation of 1,000 families. The name “Ines” is Spanish for the 4th century Christian martyr, Agnes, the patron saint of bodily purity and chastity. It was later that American Yankees anglicized the name to “ynez” when the town was named. Nicknamed the “Hidden Gem” of the Missions, lovely Santa Ines is sometimes overlooked in the rush to other activities in the Solvang area. But it is well worth the time to explore its rooms, church and gardens to get a glimpse into California history.

A taped audio tour is available in the mission gift shop.

1760 Mission Drive, Solvang, CA 93464
(805) 688-4815