The California missions are the cathedrals of the New World. They were built under the direction of the adventurous padres who braved the hardships of the New World and organized an existing agrarian culture to produce viable military, commercial, and religious centers. Even though created with primitive means from mud and wood, these structures were elegant and represented the taste and culture of the Spanish empire at its height. With nearly 800 photos and plans, this book visually documents rustic, elegant features, artistic details, and general architectural significance of each of the twenty-one missions. Searching for the roots of mission architecture, this comprehensive study starts by looking at precedents including Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Renaissance, and Native American influences. From there the book delves into how the missions influenced later American architecture, followed by specific characteristics of the style and a mission-by-mission overview. Complete with details on elevations, lighting fixtures, doorways, and more, this is an ideal book for anyone seeking architectural inspiration.