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The Royal Presidio Chapel (San Carlos Cathedral)

500 Church St, Monterey, CA 93940

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San Carlos Borromeo de Monterey was founded by Father Junipero Serra on June 3, 1770, on the shores of Monterey Bay, as the cornerstone of his Mission. A year later, Fr. Serra moved the Mission to Carmel. The church remained as a Royal Chapel for the soldiers guarding the new Spanish Presidio of Monterey. The present sandstone church was completed in 1794.

The significance of San Carlos cannot be overstated. It is the oldest continuously functioning church and the first stone building in the State of California. It is California’s first cathedral and stands for the birth of Carmel Mission and Monterey, the first capital of California.

The exquisite Spanish Colonial style, the masterful stone facade and the Moorish influence make the Royal Presidio Chapel a true jewel of architecture, unmatched by any of the California Missions. The beautiful portals, carved in sandstone with a fine molding and ornamental arches, are also unique. The niche at the very top of the facade contains a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe and is the oldest non-indigenous sculpture in the State. Elevated to the status of cathedral in 1849, San Carlos is one of California’s exceptional historic monuments.

This National Historic Landmark and cornerstone of Monterey is adjacent to Lake El Estero and within walking distance of Fisherman’s Wharf. Visitors and pilgrims from around the world visit the Royal Chapel, which stands as a legacy of faith and a living chronicle to our local, state and national history. The site includes a small museum and The Heritage Center. Docent-led tours are available.

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