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February 21, 2011 / Linda Hartong


The  Carmel Mission was founded by Father Junipero Serra, the Franciscan priest chosen to oversee the California Mission system.  With the help of the Ohione Indians, Father Serra developed the Mission of San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo.  This is a bronze statue of him in the front courtyard.

When the Mexican government secularized the Mission system in the 1830’s, the stone church languished until 1930 when a San Francisco cabinet-maker by the name of Harry Downie began restoring Mission San Carlos.

I never miss a chance to visit this beautiful spot. The Mission conducts services and has a large school. The main sanctuary is stunning.

The front courtyard is my favorite place. Regardless of the season the well-kept gardens are lush and interesting . Volunteers  called Garden Angels help maintain the colorful gardens. From the agapanthus (lily of the Nile) to the zauschneria (California fuchsia) everything needs a helping hand to shape, fertilize, weed out, deadhead, and tidy up.

Many of the plants are drought tolerant  and appreciate lean sandy soil, as does this red Valerian.


A few years ago the Mission started charging a small entry fee. They open at 10 AM. I go through the gift shop and out into the main front courtyard.  The first view is one of the many statues . This one is of St Anthony of Padua.

A large fountain in the center is a great backdrop for photos of family and a gathering spot for the many photography clubs and painting classes that meet there.



The Harry Downie Museum, located in the forecourt to the Basilica, houses interpretive displays and artifacts devoted to telling the restoration story of the Mission and the significance of Harry Downie’s efforts in the restoration.

Be sure to bring your camera so you can join all the other photographers and compare notes on where to get good shots. This gentleman is focused on the Calla Lilly that blooms in the fall.

I drift around the courtyard snapping shot after shot.

The courtyard of the Mission is constantly changing with the seasons and the inspired plant groupings planted by the gardeners.

There is much more to see  and I will save it for another post.

Meanwhile, I will listen to the music of the fountain and soak up the sun . Wish you were here!



Unless otherwise stated, all photographs are copyright (c) Linda Hartong. All rights reserved.

You may not use any image on this site without my written consent. If you are interested in using a photo from my website for any purpose, please send me a quick message and let me know which photo(s) you are interested in.




Leave a Comment
  1. jeanette sclar / Feb 22 2011 5:25 pm

    The Chamer of Commerce owes you an award!

  2. Sandy Mansfield / Feb 23 2011 4:33 pm

    I wish I was there, too!
    And to think, we were there for just one night… and missed everything!
    When we come back (and we will), I will know all the wonderful places to see.
    Thanks, Linda, for your beautiful photos and wonderful commentary.

  3. Taliyah / Feb 27 2011 10:50 pm

    Can you reply to this message quickly? I have a report and I don’t know the answer to it. The question is: “What is the date of the Indian revolt when it happened in Mission San Carlos Borromeo?”

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