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Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) travel advisories, some destinations may be unavailable for certain dates. Find out more.
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Mission San Xavier del Bac

One of Tucson’s most historic sites is a 400-year-old church set in the desert and known for its architecture and collection of religious art.

Founded by a Jesuit priest in 1692, Mission San Xavier del Bac is believed to be the oldest European-style building in Tucson. The carved facade and two brilliant white towers of this active Roman Catholic church are a stark contrast to the surrounding hills and desert. Inside the church are dozens of paintings, frescoes, carvings, statues and ornaments.

The first thing that captures your attention after passing through the entrance is the colossal altar piece. Move closer to study the intricate carvings that tell the biblical story of creation. Look to the left and you’ll see a glass sarcophagus containing a statue of St. Francis Xavier, in whose honor the church was built. Visitors pin small metal symbols to the effigy’s cloth covering, representing the miracles they are praying for.

Take your time to appreciate the artwork. Every wall is covered with paintings, columns are decorated with angel sculptures and statues of saints are tucked away in niches. Note the repeating theme of the shell in pictures, window treatments and on the facade and figurines. The shell has has been a symbol of Christian pilgrimage for hundreds of years.

During your visit you may notice some reconstruction work. An earthquake and lightning strikes in previous centuries have weakened parts of the structure. Renovations are ongoing when funds are available.

After leaving the church, learn more about its history by visiting the small museum next door. See religious artifacts and historic mementos such as the oldest known photograph of Mission San Xavier del Bac, dating to the early 1870s. Watch the 20-minute video that covers the church’s past and the restoration work.

Mission San Xavier del Bac is open daily from early morning until late afternoon. Located in the Santa Cruz Valley, the church is 12 miles (19 kilometers) south of downtown Tucson, just off the interstate highway. Admission and on-site car parking are free.


Guide to Exploring around Mission San Xavier del Bac


Best Lodging Options Near Mission San Xavier del Bac

See all 504 Properties near Mission San Xavier del Bac
Casino del Sol, Saguaro National Park & Old Tucson
Casino del Sol, Saguaro National Park & Old Tucson

Casino del Sol, Saguaro National Park & Old Tucson

Tucson, AZ
     
    0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Situated in Tucson, this vacation home is 3 mi (4.9 km) from Mission San Xavier del Bac and within 9 mi (15 km) of Sewailo Golf Club and Tucson Mountain Park. Tucson Convention Center and Old Tucson Studios are also within 12 mi (20 km).

    Beautiful and Spacious 3 Bedroom Home
    Beautiful and Spacious 3 Bedroom Home

    Beautiful and Spacious 3 Bedroom Home

    Tucson, AZ
       
      0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Presidio Shadows, this vacation home is 3 mi (4.8 km) from Mission San Xavier del Bac and within 9 mi (15 km) of Sewailo Golf Club and Tucson Mountain Park. Tucson Convention Center and Old Tucson Studios are also within 12 mi (20 km).

      Hyatt Place Tucson Airport $71
      Hyatt Place Tucson Airport

      Hyatt Place Tucson Airport

      6885 S Tucson Blvd, Tucson, AZ
         
        3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Situated near the airport, this hotel is within 9 mi (15 km) of Kino Sports Complex, Pima Air and Space Museum, and Reid Park Zoo. University of Arizona and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base are also within 9 mi (15 km).

        Quarantine Haven Party Getaway Queen Beds + Garage Hangout + Pkg
        Quarantine Haven Party Getaway Queen Beds + Garage Hangout + Pkg

        Quarantine Haven Party Getaway Queen Beds + Garage Hangout + Pkg

        Tucson, AZ
           
          0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Situated in the mountains, this vacation home is within 9 mi (15 km) of Mission San Xavier del Bac, Tucson Convention Center, and Pima Air and Space Museum. Fox Theatre and Kino Sports Complex are also within 9 mi (15 km).

          Southwest Tucson Gateway $109
          Southwest Tucson Gateway

          Southwest Tucson Gateway

          Tucson, AZ
             
            0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Situated in Tucson, this apartment building is within 6 mi (10 km) of Mission San Xavier del Bac, Tucson Greyhound Park, and Tucson International Raceway. Tucson Electric Park and Santa Cruz Church are also within 6 mi (10 km).

            Desert Diamond Casino & Hotel $118
            Desert Diamond Casino & Hotel

            Desert Diamond Casino & Hotel

            7350 S Nogales Hwy, Tucson, AZ
               
              3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

              Situated near the airport, this resort is within 6 mi (10 km) of Mission San Xavier del Bac, Kino Sports Complex, and Tucson Greyhound Park. Tucson International Raceway and Tucson Electric Park are also within 6 mi (10 km).

              Casino Del Sol Resort $109
              Casino Del Sol Resort

              Casino Del Sol Resort

              5655 W Valencia Rd, Tucson, AZ
                 
                4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Situated near the airport, this spa resort is 0.4 mi (0.7 km) from Sewailo Golf Club and within 9 mi (15 km) of Mission San Xavier del Bac and Old Tucson Studios. Tucson Mountain Park and Golden Gate Mountain are also within 9 mi (15 km).

                South-west Tucson 55+ Community 20 min to Airport Close to 19&10 Interstate
                South-west Tucson 55+ Community 20 min to Airport Close to 19&10 Interstate

                South-west Tucson 55+ Community 20 min to Airport Close to 19&10 Interstate

                Tucson, AZ
                   
                  0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Situated in Tucson, this vacation home is within 9 mi (15 km) of Sewailo Golf Club, Mission San Xavier del Bac, and Tucson Mountain Park. Golden Gate Mountain and Tumamoc Hill are also within 9 mi (15 km).