Main and Military Plazas

Hill Country Trail Region
Bounded by West Houston St., North, Santa Rosa Ave., West Nueva St., and North St. Mary’s St. San Antonio, TX 78205 (210) 207-6700

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, this historic district is the cultural and political epicenter of San Antonio. As one of the oldest permanently settled areas in the state, it also represents the evolution of Spanish-influenced architectural styles.

Military Plaza (Plaza de Armas) was first established in 1722 as a parade ground and market square for the Spanish soldiers garrisoned there. Today, the Spanish Governor's Palace (built in 1749) is the last remnant of the Presidio San Antonio de Bexar. The Spanish Colonial structure served as the residence and office of the comandancia, or presidio captain. Visitors can see period furniture, tools, and accessories at the palace-turned-museum.

Make your way to the Main Plaza (Plaza de las Islas), the site of the first authorized Texas city when it was established as the market square for the Canary Island fundadores of San Antonio March 9, 1731. These early settlers built small, primitive jacal, palisado, or caliche block residences around the square, with their village church and the Casas Reales (now 114 E. Main Plaza), their seat of government, as their focal points. The village church was eventually incorporated as the sanctuary of the Gothic Revival San Fernando Cathedral, which was completed in 1868. Within its limestone walls is a marble tomb said to be the final resting place of William Travis and other Alamo defenders.

While Main Plaza is associated with early Spanish colonialism, it evolved over the years from a community gathering place and market place into the seat of government for the city when City Hall was built in 1888-91. The San Antonio City Hall was the site of a 1938 protest led by San Antonio native, Emma Tenayuca, and thousands of pecan shellers, most of whom were Hispanic women, to walk off the job in protest of proposed pay cuts. The strike was one of the first successful actions in the Mexican-American struggle for political and social justice.

Watch the video below to learn more about Spanish Settlement of Texas. This video was produced for inclusion in the Hispanic Texans mobile tour, more information about which may be found on our Hispanic heritage page at the following link:

Main and Military Plazas

Bounded by West Houston St., North, Santa Rosa Ave., West Nueva St., and North St. Mary’s St. San Antonio, TX 78205