Originally built in 1744 as the Misión San Antonio de Valero during the era of New Spain, what has for nearly two centuries been remembered as The Alamo has become the number one cultural attraction in all of Texas thanks to the famous battle that took place there. The repurposed Alamo served as a fortress during the 13-day Battle of the Alamo, which was fought between February 23 and March 6, 1836. Today surrounded by modern-day San Antonio, the restored Alamo, outbuildings, and stone fortifications were designated in 2015 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, acknowledging its centuries-long history as an integral part of the city's complex cultural heritage.
The Battle of the Alamo, along with the well-remembered call to "Remember the Alamo," quickly became an iconic part of American history. From John Wayne to Billy Bob Thornton, the history of what transpired during the thirteen-day siege, complete with heroics both recorded and aggrandized over the years attributed to Davy Crockett (brandishing his musket as a club in the painting above), James Bowie, William B. Travis, and the roughly 200 other defenders of the Alamo who died at the hands of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and his force of 1,500 men, have been immortalized.
Already a popular tourist attraction less than two decades after the battle, the Alamo endured much of the next 50 years relatively untouched. The ruined chapel, barracks, and other surviving structures were long left as a curiosity amid the ever-growing city of San Antonio which eventually grew to completely envelop the Alamo by the early 20th century. Initially restored during the first decade of the 20th century, the Alamo and related structures were again rehabilitated and restored during the Great Depression, as part of a government-assisted make-work program. In 1966, the Alamo was added to the National Register of Historic Places, followed by the creation of the Alamo Plaza Historic District in 1977. In more recent years, the Alamo has continued to be the most popular cultural attraction in Texas, with the UNESCO World Heritage Site (2015) welcoming more than 4 million visitors per year.
Surrounded by a reconstructed stone wall (1910 restoration), today's Alamo Plaza, located in the heart of downtown San Antonio, provides a distinctive historical flair to the city centre. The 546-foot Marriott Rivercenter, the second-tallest building in San Antonio, can be seen rising on the skyline behind the historic site. A handsome city in its own right, San Antonio's claim to fame as the home of the Alamo has cemented the city's fate as a number one tourist destination for the better part of two centuries.
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