San Jacinto Monument
The San Jacinto Monument was built on the San Jacinto Battleground as a memorial to those who died fighting for Texas’ independence. It’s the world’s tallest monument at 570 feet (174 meters), and took three years to build.
At this site on April 21, 1836, Texan forces defeated Mexico in a battle that led to 10 years of independence before Texas became part of the U.S. The state purchased the historic land in the 1890s and work began on the monument in 1936, 100 years after the battle. Made from concrete and limestone, the enormous monument’s crowning glory is the 220-ton, 34-foot (10-meter) tall Lone Star. The 2304-square-foot (214-square-meter) base of the tower is inscribed with a timeline of important Texan events before and after the 1838 revolution.
Visitors to the San Jacinto Monument can ride an elevator 500 feet (152 meters) up to an observation deck, tucked just beneath the Lone Star. Gaze across the Shipping Channel to Houston’s skyline. You can also see the Battleship TEXAS, the last remaining ship of its type.
At the base of the tower is a small museum of Texas history. It’s well worth a stop to check out the collection of historic art and artifacts. On the way in, notice the grand bronze doors emblazoned with the Six Flags of Texas, the symbol of the state. Inside, you’ll find a fascinating variety of books, paintings and bayonets. There are hundreds of objects that range from Spanish treasure, to Mexican army uniforms, to Sam Houston’s personal dictionary. A 35-minute documentary will give you a good idea about what went on here during the battle for independence.
More than 1,000 acres (400 hectares) around the monument are preserved as part of the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. Walk the momentous battleground, which has been helpfully labeled throughout with markers, or meander along nature trails and boardwalks. Picnic tables and grills are conveniently spread out around the site when it’s time to stop for lunch. There’s a small fee to climb the San Jacinto Monument, but entrance to the park itself is free.
The San Jacinto Monument and surrounding park is located about a half-hour’s drive from downtown Houston. Free parking is available.