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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 2.1 mi (3.3 km) from Casino del Sol and 3 mi (4.9 km) from Mission San Xavier del Bac. Casino Del Sol and Sewailo Golf Club are also within 6 miles (10 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 2.4 mi (3.9 km) from Casino del Sol and 3 mi (4.8 km) from Mission San Xavier del Bac. Casino Del Sol and Sewailo Golf Club are also within 6 miles (10 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 2.3 mi (3.7 km) from Desert Diamond Casinos and Entertainment Tucson and within 6 miles (10 km) of Mission San Xavier del Bac and Tucson Greyhound Park. Casino del Sol and Tucson Convention Center are also within 9 miles (15 km).

        Hyatt Place Tucson Airport CA $95
        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
          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 1 mi (1.5 km) from Desert Diamond Casinos and Entertainment Tucson and within 6 miles (10 km) of Mission San Xavier del Bac and Tucson Greyhound Park. Tucson International Raceway and Tucson Electric Park are also within 6 miles (10 km).

            Desert Diamond Casino & Hotel CA $159
            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 0.3 mi (0.4 km) from Desert Diamond Casinos and Entertainment Tucson and within 6 miles (10 km) of Mission San Xavier del Bac and Kino Sports Complex. Tucson Greyhound Park and Tucson International Raceway 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 3 mi (4.9 km) from Casino del Sol and within 6 miles (10 km) of Mission San Xavier del Bac and Casino Del Sol. Sewailo Golf Club and Desert Diamond Casinos and Entertainment Tucson are also within 6 miles (10 km).

                Baymont by Wyndham Tucson Airport CA $71
                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 miles (10 km) of Kino Sports Complex and Pima Air and Space Museum. Desert Diamond Casinos and Entertainment Tucson and Tucson Electric Park are also within 6 miles (10 km).