Remember the Alamo! Those are words every Texan knows. It’s the battle cry of Texas Independence from Mexico. A thirteen day siege and a battle lost, the Battle of the Alamo is one of the most remembered events in the Texas Revolution. As we were getting everything ready to go the night before, my husband jokingly commented that it was like we were embarking on a pilgrimage to the holy land of Texas.
If you’re planning a trip to Texas, a visit to the Alamo is worth your time. This was my first time to visit. I thought it was just an old building we would look at and talk a little about what happened there. It is so much more than that! The main part of the Alamo, also called The Shrine of Texas Liberty, is set up as a museum. The exhibits richly tell of the history that was made there. The three hours spent on the Alamo grounds made me want to learn more about my state’s history.
The boys had a great time. This was learning that could never be recreated in a classroom. They were fascinated by the exhibits and asking questions the entire time. As soon as we got home my oldest made a model of the Alamo and the grounds surrounding it out of Legos. He plans on presenting the Alamo for his history fair project this school year.
A Little Bit of History
The Alamo was built in 1718 as a Catholic mission for Native Americans. It was originally called Mission San Antonio de Valero. It later became a fort used by Spanish and Mexican military. In December of 1835 the rising Texan forces seized control of the Alamo. On February 23, 1836 Santa Anna’s Mexican force began the 13 day siege. Raised from the top of San Fernando Cathedral a red flag sent the message, no quarter, meaning Santa Anna’s army would show no mercy to the Texan defenders.
The Texans had few supplies and were grossly outnumbered. On February 24, 1836 Alamo commander William Travis, wrote his famous Travis Letters, asking for reinforcement and supplies desperately needed to defeat Santa Anna’s army. Travis describes being bombarded with cannon shots continuously for 24 hours. Only about 30 men from nearby Gonzalez came to give aid. In the early morning hours of March 6, 1836 the Mexican forces made what would be the final assault on the Alamo. The Texans were able to repel the first two attempts of the Mexicans to breach the Alamo walls. On the third attempt the Mexicans succeeded in gaining access to the Alamo. The 200 defenders were quickly defeated by Santa Anna’s army of thousands.
Santa Anna was true to his word, he showed little mercy to the Texans. Any defenders still alive were executed. The bodies of the Texan soldiers were burned. Santa Anna allowed the release of women and children and Travis’s servant. The most famous survivors of the Alamo were Susanna Dickenson and her daughter, Angelina. Santa Anna released Susanna with the instructions to tell all other rebels of their fate should they continue to oppose him. Susanna told General Sam Houston of the slaughtered Texans at the hands of Santa Anna. On April 21, 1836 General Houston led his army to victory at San Jacinto, thus winning independence for Texas. As his soldiers charged Santa Anna’s army they shouted, Remember the Alamo! To this day we remember the Alamo and the sacrifice of the brave men that fought for freedom and Texas Independence.
Planning Your Trip
Visiting the Alamo is free, however relies on donations and gift shop purchases to keep it open to the public.
Plan at least two hours for your visit. We were there for about three hours and engrossed the entire time, we took our time and looked at almost everything. We were there on a Saturday. We got there mid morning and it was already pretty busy.
There are several other historical landmarks near the Alamo as well. We visited San Fernando Cathedral on Missions Trail, The Governor’s Palace, and the famous River Walk.
You will have to pay for parking. We parked about two blocks away and it cost us $22 for 8 hours. A guy that worked in the building next to the parking lot was walking through while we were paying, he warned us to be at our vehicle 15 minutes before our time was up because if we were even a minute late a tow company would be called to tow our van.
Make sure and leave all valuables where you are staying or in the trunk of your car where they can’t be seen. As in any big city touristy area theft is a problem.
Before Your Trip
You can learn all about the Alamo just by visiting, however, we like to research a little bit about our destinations before going.
(The links below are Amazon affiliate links, if you make a purchase from one of these links, I am paid a small amount in advertising fees. It’s a way you can support this site without any extra cost to you.)
We read Susanna of the Alamo: A True Story before going. This is a great book for children and adults. I enjoyed reading it as much as my boys enjoyed hearing it. This book gives a great overview of the battle and tells the story of Susanna Dickenson also.
We’ve watched Davy Crockett, King Of The Wild Frontier probably a half dozen times. We own an old VHS copy of it. The last 30 minutes of the movie show the battle. It’s an old Disney film and not to bloody and gory for the little guys.
We hadn’t studied a lot about the Missions before going to San Antonio and since we were visiting two while in San Antonio I grabbed this book, The Spanish Missions of Texas (True Books) from the Alamo gift shop. It’s an easy read about the history of Spanish missions in Texas and highlights all the missions in San Antonio and several others from around the state.
Once we got home I ordered The Boy in the Alamo. I wish we had read it before going on our trip. The boys were so fascinated with the Alamo and were talking about it and asking so many questions that I looked online for some more books to help feed their inquiring minds. This is a historical fiction book but still gives a great historical account of the Battle of the Alamo.
I recommend trying to find these resources at your local library for free if possible. A penny saved is a penny straight into the travel fund! However, if your local library doesn’t carry these titles they are available from Amazon.
We had a great time at the Alamo and will definitely try to visit again. Besides being entertaining and educational it was also free! Have you ever been to the Alamo? Did you enjoy it as much as we did? Leave a comment, we’d love to hear from you!
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