One of the most unique features about the architecture of Carmel Mission Basilica is its stone church. This was constructed after Father Junipero Serra’s death, overseen by Father Fermin Lasuen who continued Father Serra’s work at the mission. The stone church was built on the same location where the old adobe church had once stood with quarried sandstone from the Santa Lucia Mountains. The design was architected by Manuel Esteban Ruiz and Santiago Ruiz of San Blas, Mexico. The church has two unequal towers with a rounded arched portal on the sides. The walls of the church were constructed five feet deep at the base. The inside of the church is different from other missions due to its wooden tunnel vault ceiling, shaped in a parabolic arch.
The mission is constructed around an irregular shaped quadrangle or large square courtyard which is common place in most mission archtiecture. The inner courtyard is beautifully constructed with deep, overhanging portals or “inner porches” along the sides to add protection from the elements. The mission has two fountains, one is located inside the mission’s inner courtyard, and the other fountainon is by the entrance of the church.
The overall design of the mission is a combination of Spanish and Moorish influences. There are two bell towers, one that was built as a Moorish-style dome, the second larger bell tower contains 9 bells, most of them are authentic. The amount of intricate detail and expert craftmanship that has gone into the restoration and the daily maintenance of this lovely mission is hard to imagine. If you get a chance to visit Carmel Mission you won’t be able to get enough of the Spanish-Moorish-Mediterranean inspired architecture as well as the overall stunning nature of the grounds that are full of colorful gardens, citrus and olive trees, roses, and brilliant bogenvilla flowers.