The establishment of the 21 California missions over a period of about 54 years, beginning in 1769, played an important role in the history, growth, and development of California.
A number of existing towns grew up around these religious communities that brought livestock, grains, flowers, fruits and industry to California in addition to Christianity.
The missions were all established along El Camino Real, the "King's Highway", which exist today; from as far north as Sonoma (north of San Francisco) and south almost to the Mexican border in San Diego.
READ MORE: The History of the California Missions
The Mission San Luis Rey de Francia is the 18th of the 21 missions, established in 1798 and named for Louis IX, King of France. This particular mission was the largest of all the California missions and at one point had a Native American population of 2700. This mission is roughly halfway between the mission established in San Diego and the one further north in San Juan Capistrano.
READ MORE: The Mission San Luis Rey de Francia
The mission is open to visitors, with a museum, gift shop, cemetery and grounds to tour. Mission San Luis Rey de Francia is located on Mission Boulevard east of El Camino Real and Douglas Drive, about 15 minutes inland from the coast in Oceanside. The surrounding community is now deemed a historic area.
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