Walk to the end of the covered walkway in front of the padre’s quarters and look up; you’ll see this sign pointing you to the area of the Mission where the ruins are displayed. To repeat their caution about that area; these are original walls so please look but do not touch.
The picture shown here hangs on the Museum wall but it’s included here as the aerial view has been edited to show the extent of the original quadrangle and the location of the original Church and one of the cemeteries (the other, not shown below, is between the back wall and Fort Romie Road). You will be entering this area where the original Church stood and then explore the area outlined in yellow below. [Note: In 2014 Triano Enterprises built a shelter roof over the north wall ruins to help protect them from erosion. That is not in the pictures below which were mostly taken in 2012.]
The first thing you come to is the site of the original church on the Mission site. The two markers you see in the picture are the locations of the two most famous gravesites found at the site: José Joaquín de Arrillaga is buried by the first marker and Padre Florencio Ibañez by the second. A third, blank, gravesite is just behind the sign for the original Church. It is the grave of an unnamed Indian woman and stands for her and everyone else still buried there but unknown.
The first thing you notice when walking past the site of the original Church is the view down the quadrangle wall where workshops, quarters, and other buildings stood. Once the tiles were removed from the roof the weather was able to get to the adobe and it quite literally melted away. Little stands now of that building but some lumps of sand and the stone foundation.
You get a similar view if you walk over to the west wall and take a look down that toward the back wall. This area held most of the workshops.
The back of the quadrangle has the most adobe still standing but it’s still a small amount and limited to a single wall with little of the building structure still standing. [Note: This is the area that is now covered to help preserve what adobe is left.]
Two visits to the Mission some nine years apart show how weather affects the adobe. Two pictures along the back wall taken from roughly the same place are presented below; one taken in 2003 (left) and the second (right) in 2012. Notice how sharp edges in 2003 became blunt edges in 2012.
In the center of the rear courtyard stands a rather recent fountain (1975), stand of olive trees, and a sundial. The fountain is dedicated to all of the people who worked on and are working on the restoration of the Mission. Olive oil produced by the stand of trees is still used by the Monterey Diocese for the sacraments. [Note: The olive trees, while not original, were planted from cuttings taken from 200-year-old trees at the La Purisima Mission in Lompoc.]
|The California Landmark sign is on Fort Romie Road, under the El Camino Real bell; just before the turn into the Mission proper.|
Mission Nuestra Señora Dolorosísima de la Soledad
This Mission founded October 9, 1791, by Father Fermin Francisco de Lasuén, ministered to the Indians of the Salinas Valley. Governor José Joaquín de Arrillaga died here July 24, 1814 and was buried in the chapel. Prosperous in its early years, Soledad declined after 1825. Father Vincent Francisco Sarría who stayed on in poverty, faithfully served the Indians until his death in 1835. Secularized in 1865, the Mission was regranted to the Bishop of Monterey in 1859. In ruins after 1874, the chapel was reconstructed and dedicated under the auspices of the Native Daughters of the Golden West, October 9, 1955.
Registered Landmark No. 233