Carmel by the sea, California and Carmel Mission
Carmel-by-the-Sea is a quaint and picturesque village with a beautiful white sand beach and story book cottages.
Nearby Mission San Carlos de Borromeo de Carmelo—also known as Mission Carmel—is one of the most beautiful and authentic of the twenty-one California Missions.
Though it was one of the earliest places in what would become the United States to be named by a European—“El Rio Carmelo” in 1603 by Sebastian Vizcaino in honor of the Carmelite fathers traveling with him—Carmel-by-the-Sea got off to a slow start. It wasn’t until 1771 that Mission San Carlos de Borromeo de Carmelo was founded near the mouth of what is now Carmel Valley by Father Junipero Serra.
Although Serra founded nine missions, this was his headquarters. At the age of 71 Fray Junipero Serra died of tuberculosis at Mission San Carlos de Borromeo de Carmelo. A room at the Mission was rebuilt as a memorial chapel in 1924, but Serra’s grave remains below the floor of the main alter area at Mission Carmel Basilica.
The current building at Mission Carmel is actually the seventh on the site, although the walls are from the original structure. The mission fell into ruin after secularization.
San Francisco cabinetmaker Harry Downie is credited with restoring the mission. Harry Downe’s grave and marker are in the grave yard on the side of the main Carmel Mission building.
Monterey and San Francisco real estate developers took turns—in 1888 and 1903 respectively—attempting to develop a town initially called “Carmel City” and later Carmel-by-the-sea. The village was marketed as a place for “Brain Workers” to live in the pine forest alongside Carmel Mission and attracted, among others, professors from Stanford and the University of California.
Refugees from San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake, many of them artists and writers, were drawn to the area’s beauty and affordability and the town developed a reputation as a Bohemian art colony—a distinction that endures today. Today Carmel-by-the-Sea is a quaint and picturesque one-square-mile village with a beautiful white sand beach and story book cottages.
Visitors to Carmel enjoy gourmet dining, shopping and relaxing in this mecca for artists, writers, playwrights and actors — Clint Eastwood has real estate investments here and was mayor for two years.
Numerious art galleries and annual events including the Carmel Art Festival, Carmel Shakespeare Festival and Carmel Bach Festival contribute to the villages prominence as an intellectual and cultural oasis on the central California coast. Carmel-by-the-Sea’s resident professional theatre company—PacRep Theatre—celebrates its 100th year in 2006. Carmel’s historic Golden Bough Playhouse is home to this enduring Monterey Peninsula company.