Mission San Xavier del Bac

Vacation Travel Guide
Mission San Xavier del Bac showing heritage architecture and a church or cathedral

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.

Top things to do in Mission San Xavier del Bac

Top Hotels Close to Mission San Xavier del Bac

La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Tucson Airport
La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Tucson Airport
2.5 out of 5
7001 S Tucson Blvd, Tucson, AZ
The price is $89 per night from Oct 24 to Oct 24
Situated near the airport, this hotel is 2.7 mi (4.3 km) from Tucson International Raceway and within 6 mi (10 km) of Desert Diamond Casinos and Entertainment ...
4.2/5 Excellent! (1,314 reviews)
"Liked the user friendly check in. Quiet room and great water pressure. Did not like the continental breakfast, lacking warm food, protein, toast, etc...."

Reviewed on Oct 18, 2021

La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Tucson Airport
Desert Diamond Casino & Hotel
Desert Diamond Casino & Hotel
3.5 out of 5
7350 S Nogales Hwy, Tucson, AZ
The price is $104 per night from Nov 22 to Nov 22
Situated near the airport, this resort is 0.3 mi (0.4 km) from Desert Diamond Casinos and Entertainment Tucson and within 6 mi (10 km) of Mission San Xavier ...
4.2/5 Very Good! (973 reviews)
"I liked everything"

Reviewed on Oct 15, 2021

Desert Diamond Casino & Hotel
Casino del Sol, Saguaro National Park & Old Tucson
Casino del Sol, Saguaro National Park & Old Tucson
Tucson, AZ
Situated in Tucson, this vacation home is 2.1 mi (3.3 km) from Casino del Sol and 3 mi (4.9 km) from Mission San Xavier del Bac. Casino Del Sol and Sewailo Golf ...
5/5 Exceptional! (1 review)
Beautiful home
"I enjoyed my stay. Nice small home. Made me feel like I never left my home. There was everything we needed in the home. Everything was near by. I will choose this place again next time I visit Tucson."

Reviewed on Nov 7, 2019

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Casino del Sol, Saguaro National Park & Old Tucson
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

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Best Lodging Options Near Mission San Xavier del Bac

La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Tucson Airport
La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Tucson Airport
2.5 out of 5
7001 S Tucson Blvd, Tucson, AZ
The price is $89 per night from Oct 24 to Oct 24
La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Tucson Airport
Desert Diamond Casino & Hotel
Desert Diamond Casino & Hotel
3.5 out of 5
7350 S Nogales Hwy, Tucson, AZ
The price is $104 per night from Nov 22 to Nov 22
Desert Diamond Casino & Hotel
Casino del Sol, Saguaro National Park & Old Tucson
Casino del Sol, Saguaro National Park & Old Tucson
Tucson, AZ
Casino del Sol, Saguaro National Park & Old Tucson
Quarantine Haven Party Getaway Queen Beds + Garage Hangout + Pkg
Quarantine Haven Party Getaway Queen Beds + Garage Hangout + Pkg
Tucson, AZ
Quarantine Haven Party Getaway Queen Beds + Garage Hangout + Pkg
La Casita Cochella 1 bedroom Cozy Cottage
La Casita Cochella 1 bedroom Cozy Cottage
Tucson, AZ
The price is $95 per night from Oct 25 to Oct 25
La Casita Cochella 1 bedroom Cozy Cottage
Southwest Tucson Gateway
Southwest Tucson Gateway
Tucson, AZ
Southwest Tucson Gateway
💖Spacious,Clean&Comfy|King Bed|Carport|AC|PetsOk
💖Spacious,Clean&Comfy|King Bed|Carport|AC|PetsOk
Tucson, AZ
The price is $300 per night from Oct 25 to Oct 25
💖Spacious,Clean&Comfy|King Bed|Carport|AC|PetsOk
Best Western Tucson Int'l Airport Hotel & Suites
Best Western Tucson Int'l Airport Hotel & Suites
2.5 out of 5
6801 S Tucson Blvd, Tucson, AZ
The price is $93 per night from Oct 29 to Oct 29
Best Western Tucson Int'l Airport Hotel & Suites
💖Elegant, Clean&Comfy|King Bed|Garage|AC|PetsOk💖
💖Elegant, Clean&Comfy|King Bed|Garage|AC|PetsOk💖
Tucson, AZ
💖Elegant, Clean&Comfy|King Bed|Garage|AC|PetsOk💖
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.