Monday, January 9, 2012

Sonoma Plaza

Had a great time visiting the historic Plaza in the town of Sonoma that’s about 50 miles north of San Francisco on CA Highway 121. There’s a lot of history that took place there and many Historic landmarks can be visited today. The journey is interesting as you drive through the beautiful Sonoma Valley Wine Country along the way.
The Sonoma Plaza is the old town square and the largest of its kind in California. The Plaza's eight acres and the surrounding streets were laid out by General Mariano Guadelupe Vallejo in 1836.
An important landmark is The Mission San Francisco Solano de Sonoma, or Sonoma Mission for short. It was founded on July 4, 1823 under the direction of Padre Jose Altimira of Spain. It is the last and most northern of the 21 Franciscan missions along the California Coast.
At the mission there were orchards, gardens, vineyards, fields of grain, and housing for the soldiers, the natives and their families. In 1834 the Mexican Congress decided to stop the mission projects. Under orders from General Vallejo, the Sonoma Mission became a parish church serving Sonoma Valley until it was sold in 1881. 
The Sonoma Mission is now a part of the California State Parks and is well worth a visit to view the displays and artifacts.
Across the street from the Mission is the Blue Wing Inn, the oldest visible adobe structure north of San Francisco. It was built by General Vallejo circa 1840 to house travelers.
The guest list included John C. Fremont, President U. S. Grant, Kit Carson, Fighting Joe Hooker, William T. Sherman, Phil Sheridan, and members of the Bear Flag party along with the famed bandits “Three Fingered Jack” and Joaquin Murietta.
Just down E Spain Street from the Mission is the Sonoma Barracks, built in 1836 to house Mexican soldiers. Over one hundred military expeditions based there sought to subdue the Native Americans who attempted to throw off Mexican domination. The Barracks became the headquarters of the Bear Flag Party, which in June 1846 proclaimed a “California Republic” and raised the Bear Flag in revolt.
Today the Plaza is lined with charming shops and popular restaurants filled with Sonoma Valley specialties, including world-renowned cheeses and wines. Enjoy the Plaza or relax for a picnic and visit the friendly ducks. It’s a great place to spend a couple of hours or a couple of days. Highly recommended!

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