Not far north from Bahía de Concepción, on the lush banks of the Arroyo Santa Rosalía springs a lovely tropical town called Mulegé. Quietly situated amid mangroves and date palms, this site was originally a ranchería of the Cochimí. Less populous than its southern neighbor Loreto, the modern town maintains ties to its heritage through its weathered adobe and stone buildings and relaxed atmosphere. Hustle-and-bustle do not exist here… no hi-rise buildings, banks, ATMs or tourist offices. Instead, visitors to Mulegé celebrate its charms by ambling through tapered, uneven streets and palm groves to reach the carefully restored Misión Santa Rosalia de Mulegé.
Misión Santa Rosalia de Mulegé was first established in the year 1705 by Jesuit priest Juan Manuel de Basaldúa. It was used to serve the Cochimí population who originally numbered approximately 2,000. Sadly, this population dwindled rapidly due to the unintentional introduction of European diseases by the Spanish missionaries. According to Franciscan records, 85% of the Cochimí had disappeared from Mulegé by the time of their arrival to take over from the Jesuits in 1768. By the time of Dominican takeover in 1773, only slightly more than 100 Cochimí neophytes remained. For these reasons, the Misión was eventually abandoned (1828).
Today, the Misión has been restored with funding from the Mexican government and serves as a Catholic parish church for the 3,000 residents of Mulegé. Travelers are welcomed warmly and encouraged to enjoy the spectacular view from a vista point located 100 feet beyond the Misión. In glorious contrast to barren desert beyond, the oasis below is filled with verdant palm trees, a reservoir and glimpses of beautiful Arroyo Santa Rosalía itself. This is a lovely spot for photos!
Due to extensive remodeling, the Misión interior is now quite different from its original form but happily it still maintains the remarkable stone exterior first constructed in 1766. Visitors entering Misión Santa Rosalía will appreciate this tranquil, cool haven from the intense warmth and humidity of beautiful summer afternoons in Mulegé.
Wikipedia.Org, Misión Santa Rosalía de Mulegé, Author Unknown, Cited on March 16, 2007.