During the Texas Revolution, San Antonio was the site of several key battles, including the Siege of Béxar and the famous Battle of the Alamo. At the time, Military Plaza was an open training ground where troops assembled and drilled in formation. It was also the scene of a momentous transfer of power at the conclusion of the Texas Revolution in 1836. After Mexican dictator Santa Anna had triumphed at the Siege of the Alamo in March of 1836, Mexico firmly controlled the city. Even after the decisive Texian victory at San Jacinto in April, the Mexicans continued to occupy it. Not until June did the Béxar garrison actually surrender. Fittingly, the person to accept the Mexican surrender was Juan Seguín, a Tejano born in San Antonio - now the city’s highest military commander.
Military Plaza (Plaza de Armas) was first established in 1722 as a parade ground and market square for the Spanish soldiers garrisoned there. While this plaza is associated with early Spanish colonialism, due, in large part to the preservation of the 1749 Spanish Governor's Palace, it evolved over the years from a community gathering place and market place into the seat of government for the city when the Italian Renaissance Revival style 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.
Military Plaza offers the modern visitor the chance to experience a wide variety of architectural styles covering more than 200 years. Many of the original buildings are now restaurants, banks, and government offices. The historic plaza, just a short distance from the Riverwalk, is still a thriving center of life in San Antonio, a popular destination with natives and tourists alike.
Main Plaza (Plaza de las Islas) was 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 (now San Fernando Cathedral) and the Casas Reales (now 114 E. Main Plaza), their seat of government, as their focal points. A local government structure still shares the architectural focus of Main Plaza with the Cathedral, in the form of the 1882 Romanesque Revival style County Courthouse.
Watch our Texas Revolution: The 1835 Campaign video to learn more about the history of Texas Independence. This video was produced for inclusion in our Texas: Forged of Revolution mobile tour found in our Texas Time Travel Tours mobile app. Download the app for more videos and travel information: