Serra Chapel Mission San Juan Capistrano
Father Serra completed the building in 1782, six years after he founded the mission. The next year, 213 Juaneno Indians were converted to Catholicism in the chapel. Visitors entering the chapel must walk past the mission's burial grounds and through an entryway where the baptismal font that Serra used still stands. The tunnel-like chapel is as long as a basketball court, but its 20-foot width allows only two rows of stained pine pews. The four-foot-thick adobe walls are adorned with oil paintings, ornate drawings and statues tucked into neatly cut niches. A row of chandeliers hang from the 22-foot-high ceiling on rusted chains. The chapel focuses on a golden baroque altar that was carved from cherry wood in Spain about 300 years ago. The altar was originally shipped to Los Angeles for a cathedral that was never built. It wound up at the mission, where the front half of the chapel was extended and heightened to accommodate it in 1922.