710. Royal Presidio Chapel

Royal Presidio Chapel Welcome to the Royal Presidio Chapel. It is both the oldest building in Monterey and the oldest church in continuous service in California. It is also California's only remaining Presidio chapel from the Spanish period of early California. Founded by Junipero Serra on June 3, 1770, the church sits on the grounds of the original Presidio of Monterey - the first Spanish capital of Alta California. Initially the chapel was built from logs, plastered with mud, and topped with a thatched roof. Fire destroyed the original building in 1789. The new stone church was completed in 1794 and is the same building that stands here today. It was the first building designed by a professional architect in California, and the original plans are still housed in a vault in Mexico City. It is decorated in the rich red, green and gold colors of the King of Spain, for whom it was originally built and served as the Royal Chapel of the Governor of California. When the missions were secularized in 1834, San Carlos church became the local parish church. During the seismic retrofit of the building, original 1794 Spanish-era holy water fonts as well as a Corinthian arch and column designs were uncovered. A grey Mexican-era design can be viewed as well. Examples are visible through transparent inserts in the interior walls. Stone pavers located outside the side exits and front entry show the locations of the 1772 adobe chapel, the original padre quarters, perimeter walls, and other historical sites from the days of the first Presidio of Monterey. The nearby Royal Presidio Heritage Center is place to learn more about the history here. Designated as a National Historic Landmark, the chapel is open every day from 7:30am to 4:00pm.