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Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) travel advisories, some destinations may be unavailable for certain dates. Find out more.
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Mission San Xavier del Bac

One of Tucson’s most historic sites is a 400-year-old church set in the desert and known for its architecture and collection of religious art.

Founded by a Jesuit priest in 1692, Mission San Xavier del Bac is believed to be the oldest European-style building in Tucson. The carved facade and two brilliant white towers of this active Roman Catholic church are a stark contrast to the surrounding hills and desert. Inside the church are dozens of paintings, frescoes, carvings, statues and ornaments.

The first thing that captures your attention after passing through the entrance is the colossal altar piece. Move closer to study the intricate carvings that tell the biblical story of creation. Look to the left and you’ll see a glass sarcophagus containing a statue of St. Francis Xavier, in whose honor the church was built. Visitors pin small metal symbols to the effigy’s cloth covering, representing the miracles they are praying for.

Take your time to appreciate the artwork. Every wall is covered with paintings, columns are decorated with angel sculptures and statues of saints are tucked away in niches. Note the repeating theme of the shell in pictures, window treatments and on the facade and figurines. The shell has has been a symbol of Christian pilgrimage for hundreds of years.

During your visit you may notice some reconstruction work. An earthquake and lightning strikes in previous centuries have weakened parts of the structure. Renovations are ongoing when funds are available.

After leaving the church, learn more about its history by visiting the small museum next door. See religious artifacts and historic mementos such as the oldest known photograph of Mission San Xavier del Bac, dating to the early 1870s. Watch the 20-minute video that covers the church’s past and the restoration work.

Mission San Xavier del Bac is open daily from early morning until late afternoon. Located in the Santa Cruz Valley, the church is 12 miles (19 kilometers) south of downtown Tucson, just off the interstate highway. Admission and on-site car parking are free.


Guide to Exploring around Mission San Xavier del Bac


Best Lodging Options Near Mission San Xavier del Bac

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Casino del Sol, Saguaro National Park & Old Tucson
Casino del Sol, Saguaro National Park & Old Tucson

Casino del Sol, Saguaro National Park & Old Tucson

7136 S Camino Grande, Tucson, AZ
     
    0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Situated in Tucson, this holiday home is 3 mi (4.9 km) from Mission San Xavier del Bac and within 9 miles (15 km) of Sewailo Golf Club and Tucson Mountain Park. Tucson Convention Center and Old Tucson Studios are also within 12 miles (20 km).

    Beautiful and Spacious 3 Bedroom Home
    Beautiful and Spacious 3 Bedroom Home

    Beautiful and Spacious 3 Bedroom Home

    3409 W Avenida Sombra, Tucson, AZ
       
      0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Presidio Shadows, this holiday home is 3 mi (4.8 km) from Mission San Xavier del Bac and within 9 miles (15 km) of Sewailo Golf Club and Tucson Mountain Park. Tucson Convention Center and Old Tucson Studios are also within 12 miles (20 km).

      Quarantine Haven Party Getaway Queen Beds + Garage Hangout + Pkg
      Quarantine Haven Party Getaway Queen Beds + Garage Hangout + Pkg

      Quarantine Haven Party Getaway Queen Beds + Garage Hangout + Pkg

      926 W Calle De Casas Lindas, Tucson, AZ
         
        0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Situated in the mountains, this holiday home is within 9 miles (15 km) of Mission San Xavier del Bac, Tucson Convention Center and Pima Air and Space Museum. Fox Theatre and Kino Sports Complex are also within 9 miles (15 km).

        Hyatt Place Tucson Airport CA $101
        Hyatt Place Tucson Airport

        Hyatt Place Tucson Airport

        6885 S Tucson Blvd, Tucson, AZ
           
          3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Situated near the airport, this hotel is within 9 mi (15 km) of Kino Sports Complex, Pima Air and Space Museum and Reid Park Zoo. University of Arizona and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base are also within 9 mi (15 km).

          Southwest Tucson Gateway CA $146
          Southwest Tucson Gateway

          Southwest Tucson Gateway

          6930 S 6th Ave, Tucson, AZ
             
            0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Situated in Tucson, this apartment building is within 6 miles (10 km) of Mission San Xavier del Bac, Tucson Greyhound Park and Tucson International Raceway. Tucson Electric Park and Santa Cruz Church are also within 6 miles (10 km).

            Desert Diamond Casino & Hotel CA $158
            Desert Diamond Casino & Hotel

            Desert Diamond Casino & Hotel

            7350 S Nogales Hwy, Tucson, AZ
               
              3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

              Situated near the airport, this resort is within 6 miles (10 km) of Mission San Xavier del Bac, Kino Sports Complex and Tucson Greyhound Park. Tucson International Raceway and Tucson Electric Park are also within 6 miles (10 km).

              South-west Tucson 55+ Community 20 min to Airport Close to 19&10 Interstate
              South-west Tucson 55+ Community 20 min to Airport Close to 19&10 Interstate

              South-west Tucson 55+ Community 20 min to Airport Close to 19&10 Interstate

              6191 S Barrister Rd, Tucson, AZ
                 
                0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Situated in Tucson, this holiday home is within 9 miles (15 km) of Sewailo Golf Club, Mission San Xavier del Bac and Tucson Mountain Park. Golden Gate Mountain and Tumamoc Hill are also within 9 miles (15 km).

                Tucson 2 Story House
                Tucson 2 Story House

                Tucson 2 Story House

                5764 S Manta Ray rd, Tucson, AZ
                   
                  0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Situated in Tucson, this holiday home is within 6 miles (10 km) of Tucson Greyhound Park, Mission San Xavier del Bac and Kino Sports Complex. Tucson Electric Park and Santa Cruz Church are also within 6 miles (10 km). Roy Laos Transit Center is 26 minutes by foot.