We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“World Famous Catholic Mission Church”

Mission San Xavier del Bac
Book In Advance
More Info
and up
Tucson Day Tour
More Info
and up
Day trip to Tombstone Arizona and San Xavier Mission from Phoenix
Ranked #5 of 288 things to do in Tucson
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: Built in the 1700s, this recently restored white adobe church, representing a wonderful example of Spanish colonial architecture, is beautiful inside and out, with colorful frescoes, sculptures and carvings.
Tucson, Arizona
Level 5 Contributor
80 reviews
28 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 64 helpful votes
“World Famous Catholic Mission Church”
Reviewed 5 July 2014

This church is called the Dove of the Desert because it is maintained with a completely white exterior (except for the entrance) which is quite striking. It is located on the Tohono O’odham San Xavier Indian Reservation. The architectural style is Spanish Colonial and the architect was Ignacio Gaona. The sanctuary is heavily decorated with intricate sculptural art, which was recently restored to its original brilliance, quite colorful indeed! The exterior is noted for its two short towers, one of them still incomplete. You can see this landmark from quite a distance, traveling along I-19. It makes good photographs any time of the day.

There is a good description of the history, art, and architecture on the official web site. If you learn about it before you go, it will be more meaningful.

The mission was founded by Father Eusebio Kino, and there is a display case containing either his preserved remains or a facsimile, I'm not sure which. The local members often come there to pray before it. With all the Catholic stuff there, it makes me feel a little uneasy, but if you are Catholic, you should feel right at home.

I had the interesting experience of singing there, in the choir, in a performance of Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols, which was offered by what is now known as the Tucson Masterworks Chorale. It was a fitting and excellent location with good acoustics.

This church serves a local native congregation. It is free and open to the public every day. There is a gift shop and museum. A wonderful crested saguaro lives in a side yard. There are many mission churches throughout the region, but this one is most notable. It is worth a visit.

Visited August 2013
Thank Pat G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Write a Review

3,230 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • Czech first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Norwegian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Beautiful artwork inside!”
Reviewed 1 July 2014

The setting is beautiful out in the Tucson desert! The mission inside is beautiful! I also bought a basket at the gift shop.

Visited December 2013
Thank delilah52
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Columbus, Ohio
Level 3 Contributor
22 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Wonderful historic church”
Reviewed 30 June 2014

Despite the on-going renovation masking some of its facade, it was a beautiful church. It's a bit off the beaten path but well worth the detour. It's free although you are encouraged to leave donations or purchase a candle ($3) to light in the chapel.

It has wonderful art and lots of interesting information about the rich 300+ year history of the mission. It was fascinating to see how the local Indians interacted with the mission priests and incorporated tenets of Christianity in their religion of nature. On display were also some amazing artifacts. Take the free tour to get the most out of your visit.

Visited June 2014
Thank Jean P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Port Alberni, Canada
Level 6 Contributor
217 reviews
122 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 93 helpful votes
“Nice Piece of History”
Reviewed 30 June 2014

Very nice way to learn about the history and early settlement of the area. Lovely displays, worth the time to look back in time.

Visited November 2013
Thank Dorothy B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Honolulu, Hawaii
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Stunningly Beautiful!”
Reviewed 30 June 2014 via mobile

Truly stunning! The level of detail in the religious artifacts was amazing. Wonderful art work throughout. I've driven past hundreds of times. I'm so glad I finally got to see inside!

Visited June 2014
Thank SSchwartzFam
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

Travellers who viewed Mission San Xavier del Bac also viewed


Been to Mission San Xavier del Bac? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing