Experience Spanish Colonial History at Tubac Presidio State Historic Park
Tubac Presidio State Historic Park is a tiny gem located in southern Arizona. Most people don’t even know that this park with its living history is hiding here, tucked away 45 miles south of Tucson. But if you’re interested in the history of Arizona and the Old West, this is a great place to visit.
A Glimpse of Spanish Colonial History
Tubac Presidio State Historic Park offers a unique glimpse into Spanish colonial history. The settlement here was the oldest Spanish fort and the first European settlement in all of present-day Arizona. It was originally built as a Spanish mission. After an uprising among the natives, the desperate and panicked Spanish built the mission in order to control and ultimately convert the natives to their old-world religion.
The settlement was originally called Presidio San Ignacio de Tubac. It was official established in 1752, although Spanish settlers began moving into the area as early as the 1730s. At Tubac Presidio State Historic Park, you can get a look at the earliest days of European settlement in Arizona and the new world.
Things to See at Tubac Presidio State Historic Park
The most interesting part of Tubac Presidio State Historic Park is its underground archaeological exhibition. This part of the park was first excavated in 1974 by archaeologists from the University of Arizona, who found deep in the earth the presidio’s original foundation. You can enter this underground area and see the original foundation for yourself.
There are many other things to see at Tubac Presidio State Historic Park as well. There is a preserved schoolhouse that was originally built in 1885. It still contains desks, chalkboards, a potbelly stove and more. Another historic building to check out is Otero Hall, a public building built in 1914 after the Arizona Territory became a state. Near the park, you can also see St. Ann’s Church, which was built over the ruins of Iglésia de Santa Gertrudis.
2,000 Years of Arizona History
If you visit Tubac Presidio State Historic Park and see the ruins and old buildings, don’t forget to stop and check out the museum. The museum offers exhibits and information about every era of the park, including the pre-Spanish native inhabitants and their history, the Spanish colonial era, its time as part of the Mexican Republic, and its incorporation into Arizona Territory and the United States. As a result, the museum covers nearly 2,000 years of the area’s history.
People visit Tubac Presidio State Historic Park for its vibrant history, but there’s also natural beauty to be enjoyed here as well. The park is set in a beautiful rolling grassland landscape on the rugged banks of the Santa Clara River. If you’re into hiking, you can enjoy a part of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. Near the park is the trailhead of the Tubac-to- Tumacácori portion of the trail. You can go hiking on your own or enjoy group nature walks.
When you visit, be sure to spend some time in the area enjoying all that it has to offer. There are events and educational programs here that showcase desert wildlife, architecture, local food, arts and crafts, and more.
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