The Alamo at dusk.

Photograph by Tamir Kalifa

San Antonio has always existed at a crossroads. That was true in 1691, when Spanish explorers arrived in the area and began building a network of trails, or caminos, to use as trade routes, drawing on the same paths Indigenous peoples had used for thousands of years. It’s true even now, as the city’s street names, cuisine, and architecture still invoke a blend of the Native, Mexican, European, and African American influences that have shaped this place for more than three centuries. Within a stone’s throw of downtown, you can visit the state’s oldest Spanish mission, marvel at the beautiful Victorian homes built by German immigrants in the King William Historic District, and snack on pan dulce while wandering through the stalls of Market Square—the largest Mexican market in the country. This complex history doesn’t clash with the present, though; instead, it enlivens the city with ghost stories, legends, and traditions.

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