There are 21 Spanish missions in California, some of which developed into larger cities such as Mission San Francisco de Asis, San Jose, Santa Clara de Asis, Santa Cruz and.San Luis Obispo de Toloso. Santa Barbara, San Juan Capistrano and San Diego de Alcala also developed into large cities.
Some of the remaining Spanish missions include San Rafael Arcangel, San Juan Batista, San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo and Nuestra Senora de la Soledad. A few other Spanish missions are San Antonio de Padua, San Miguel Arcangel, La Purisima Concepcion, Santa Ines and San Buenaventura. San Fernando Rey de Espana, San Gabriel Arcangel and San Luis Rey de Francia are also Spanish missions. One mission, San Francisco Solano, was established under Mexican rule in 1823.
Spanish missionary expeditions began in 1768 when the Spanish decided to settle what was then known as Alta California and convert the natives to Catholicism. The first expedition landed in what is now known as San Diego, with the first missionary, Father-President Junipero Serra, and a military leader, Gaspar de Portola, as its leaders. In July 1769, Serra founded Mission San Diego de Alcala, the first of the 21 Spanish missions in California.
The mission system ended in 1832, when the Mexican government secularized the lands that covered about one-third of the area of future California.