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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.

Popular Activities at Mission San Xavier del Bac

Make the most of your time spent at Mission San Xavier del Bac. Here is a list of some of the most popular activities:

Want to discover this famed attraction in an unforgettable way? Then you can't go past a Guided History of the City Tour.

For many more activities, peruse our Tucson things to do page.


Guide to Exploring around Mission San Xavier del Bac


Map

Best Lodging Options Near Mission San Xavier del Bac

See all 302 properties near Mission San Xavier del Bac
Saguaro National Monument, Old Tucson, Casino del Sol
Saguaro National Monument, Old Tucson, Casino del Sol

Saguaro National Monument, Old Tucson, Casino del Sol

Tucson, Arizona
     
    0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Situated in Tucson, this vacation home is 2.8 mi (4.5 km) from Mission San Xavier del Bac and within 6 mi (10 km) of Sewailo Golf Club and Tucson Mountain Park. Santa Cruz Church and El Tiradito Wishing Shrine are also within 9 mi (15 km).

    Desert Diamond Casino & Hotel C$121
    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 mi (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 mi (10 km).

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

      Beautiful and Spacious 3 Bedroom Home

      Tucson, Arizona
         
        0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

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

        La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Tucson Airport C$85
        La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Tucson Airport

        La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Tucson Airport

        7001 S Tucson Blvd, Tucson, AZ
           
          2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

          Situated near the airport, this hotel is 2.7 mi (4.3 km) from Tucson International Raceway and within 6 mi (10 km) of Kino Sports Complex and Pima Air and Space Museum. Tucson Electric Park and Tucson Greyhound Park are also within 6 mi (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

          Tucson, Arizona
             
            0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Situated in Tucson, this vacation home is within 6 mi (10 km) of Sewailo Golf Club, Mission San Xavier del Bac, and Tucson Mountain Park. Kino Sports Complex and Santa Cruz Church are also within 9 mi (15 km).

            Baymont by Wyndham Tucson Airport C$70
            Baymont by Wyndham Tucson Airport

            Baymont by Wyndham Tucson Airport

            6955 S Tucson Blvd, Tucson, AZ
               
              2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

              Situated near the airport, this hotel is 2.8 mi (4.5 km) from Tucson International Raceway and within 6 mi (10 km) of Kino Sports Complex and Pima Air and Space Museum. Tucson Electric Park and Tucson Greyhound Park are also within 6 mi (10 km).

              Tucson 2 Story House
              Tucson 2 Story House

              Tucson 2 Story House

              Tucson, Arizona
                 
                0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Situated in Tucson, this vacation home is close to Kino Sports Complex. Area attractions also include Tucson Convention Center and Arizona Stadium.

                Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Tucson Airport, AZ C$79
                Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Tucson Airport, AZ

                Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Tucson Airport, AZ

                6681 S Tucson Blvd, Tucson, AZ
                   
                  3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Situated near the airport, this hotel is 3.1 mi (4.9 km) from Tucson International Raceway and within 6 mi (10 km) of Kino Sports Complex and Pima Air and Space Museum. Tucson Electric Park and Tucson Greyhound Park are also within 6 mi (10 km).