A Historical View of the San Antonio Missions
The arch over the front door of the church is one of this mission's unusual features. This arch has fascinated and puzzled observers for years. Properly constructed, the voussoirs (wedge-shaped stones) in this Moorish arch should curve in an unbroken line. The two lower stones on each side break the curve.

An explanation offered by one authority suggests that the inexperienced indigenous builders had never seen such an arch, and may have cut the bottom stones incorrectly. Had the stones been cut correctly and turned around, the arch would have made a perfect curve. In spite of this architectural mistake, the archway successfully withstood years of neglect and the weathering of time.

About this Image:
1) A close–up view of the front (east) facade of the chapel at Mission Espada. Notice that its three bells remain intact in the espadaña, or tiered belfry.

2) Detail of the unusual broken arch framing the carved front door to Mission Espada's chapel. Photo taken by Gordon Shults.

To Learn More:
Courtesy of the San Antonio Conservation Society Foundation.
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