Five Spanish Colonial missions in Texas in the US were officially inscribed as a World Heritage Site last month.

The missions include the Mission Nuestra Señora de la Purisima Concepción de Acuña, the Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo, the Mission San Juan Capistrano, and the Mission San Francisco de La Espada as well as the Mission San Antonio de Valero (better known as The Alamo), the site of an historic battle in 1836.

They were designated as a World Heritage Site in July this year by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee. At the time, US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell described the missions as "an extraordinary national and international treasure".

"The missions interweave Spanish and indigenous cultures that are a vital part of America’s heritage, and their inscription as a World Heritage Site will draw visitors from around the world to San Antonio, providing an economic boost to the local community."

The missions were founded by Franciscan missionaries in the early 18th century with the aim, according to the official listing, of colonising, evangelising and defending the northern frontier of New Spain.

"In addition to evangelizing the area’s indigenous population into converts loyal to the Catholic Church, the missions also included all the components required to establish self-sustaining, socio-economic communities loyal to the Spanish Crown," the UNESCO listing says.

Located along a 12 kilometre stretch of the San Antonio River, the mission complexes feature more than 50 structures. They include the oldest unrestored church in the US (located in the Concepcion Mission).

~ http://www.missionsofsanantonio.org

~ http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1466