California: Santa Ines Mission

Santa Ines Mission Bell Tower

Santa Ines Mission Bell Tower



Rose Arbor

Rose Arbor

Santa Ines Altar

Santa Ines Altar

Embroidered Lamb

Embroidered Lamb

Chumash Family Statue

Chumash Family Statue

Statue of Santa Ynes

Statue of Santa Ynes

St. Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio

St. Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio

The Santa Ines Mission was founded in 1804 in Solvang, California (near Santa Barbara).  It is nicknamed the “Hidden Gem of the Missions” because of its beautiful location overlooking the Santa Ynez River.  It is one of California’s most well-restored missions, and currently serves about 1,300 families.

Santa Fe: Loretto Chapel’s Double Spiral Staircase

Loretto Chapel, Santa Fe

Loretto Chapel: Entrance

Loretto Chapel: Spiral Staircase

Loretto Chapel: Altar

Loretto Chapel: Sacred Heart of Jesus

Loretto Chapel: Saint Joseph

Loretto Chapel: Stained Glass

Santa Fe’s Loretto Chapel was built in 1873.  This gothic church has an amazing spiral staircase that makes two complete 360 degree turns.  Visitors marvel at how the “floating” staircase stands without falling down.

Mission San Miguel

Mission San Miguel, California

Mission San Miguel Belltower

Mission San Miguel Altar

Mission San Miguel Cemetery Entrance

Mission San Miguel Cemetery Entrance

Mission San Miguel Tile

Mission San Miguel (east of Big Sur) was founded in 1797.  It is one of California’s most authentic and beautiful missions.  The colorful murals inside the church are the original ones painted by Indian artists.  Mission bells were central to life at the mission, and were blessed upon installation.  Bells were rung in a special way, and were used to call people to worship, meals, work, and gatherings. 

Lost Movie Set of “The Ten Commandments”

Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge

1923 Silent Movie

Sphinx Head from “The Ten Commandments”

City of the Pharaoh from “The Ten Commandments”

Recovered Movie Set Pieces from “The Ten Commandments”

1930 Movie “Morocco” Filmed at Nipomo Dunes

Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge is located north of Santa Barbara.  The refuge has the largest and most extensive coastal sand dunes in California.  Cecil B. DeMille filmed his original The Ten Commandments at this location in 1923.  Before filming began, an entire Egyptian “City of the Pharaoh” was constructed on the dunes.  The scale of the production was amazing!  The elaborate movie set contained 300 chariots, 21 sphinxes weighing 5 tons each, and 4 statues of Ramses that were each 35 feet tall!   When filming ended, the set was secretly buried in the sand.  Now historians are using ground-penetrating radar to recover pieces of the set for display in the Dunes Center Museum.   A documentary on the film history of the area by Peter Brosnan is currently in production.   Past “Sahara” movies filmed on the dunes starred Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, Gary Cooper, and Marlene Dietrich.  A more recent movie filmed on the dunes was Pirates of the Caribbean starring Johnny Depp.

UPDATE October 2014:  Recent excavation has unearthed one of the giant sphinx heads buried in the sand.  It will be displayed at the Guadalupe Dunes Center Museum.  Articles are at:   and 

UPDATE December 2015/January 2016:  After 30 years, the documentary by Peter Brosnan is finally finished!  The movie “The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille” is now being submitted to film festivals.  An article is at:

A trailer about the new movie is at:

The official website for the movie is at:

Info about visiting the  display is at:

La Purisima Mission State Park

La Purisima Mission Bell Tower

La Purisima Mission Compound Wall

La Purisima Mission Altar: Chapel 1

La Purisima Mission Altar: Chapel 2

La Purisima Mission Chapel 2: Close-Up of Angels and Babies

La Purisima Mission State Park is located between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. Each mission in California was located one travel day apart by horse along El Camino Real (the Royal Highway).  La Purisima Mission was built in 1787, and was reconstructed after an earthquake in 1812.  It is well known for its two chapels and living history demonstrations throughout the year.

Mission Santa Barbara

Mission Santa Barbara Front View

Mission Santa Barbara Twin Belltowers

Mission Santa Barbara Altar

Mission Santa Barbara Painting with Monk

Mission Santa Barbara Painting with Lambs

Mission Santa Barbara Rose Garden

Mission Santa Barbara is called the “Queen of the Missions.”  It was built in 1786, and is the only California mission with twin bell towers.  The church’s beautiful stone exterior is patterned after an ancient Roman temple.  Adjoining the mission is a park with over 1,000 blooming roses.

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