San Fernando Cathedral

San Antonio

A couple having an evening drink in front of San Fernando Cathedral, San Antonio, Texas USA

Alamy Stock Photo

Founded in 1731, San Antonio’s cathedral ranks as the oldest church in Texas. On the edge of Main Plaza, its prime interest for modern visitors is as a screen – literally – for San Antonio: The Saga, a sound and light show.

The sound and light show

This 24-minute-long after-dark art installation tells the story of the city with dazzling colorful effects, projected onto the cathedral's facade four nights a week (9pm, 9:30pm and 10pm, Tuesday and Friday to Sunday; free). 

An image of a Native American projected onto the facade of a cathedral
The light show on the cathedral has drawn visitors since 2014 © kellyvandellen / Getty Images


The cathedral itself played a crucial role in the 1836 Battle of the Alamo. As James Bowie – who had been married in San Fernando in happier times – defended the Alamo across the river, Mexican general Santa Anna commandeered the church as an observation post. His act of raising a flag of "no quarter", meaning he would take no prisoners, began the deadly siege.

On little evidence beyond the fact that they bore fragments of uniforms – and even though the Alamo defenders didn't wear uniforms – charred bones unearthed near the altar in 1936 were claimed to be those of Davy Crockett, William Travis and James Bowie. They’re now housed in a marble casket just inside the left entrance of the church.