We currently live in Corpus Christi, and one weekend as we were driving home from Austin, we decided to avoid the boring interstate drive and take some Texas back country roads instead. I'm from New Jersey originally and Texas is about as different from there as you can possibly get - so I'm fascinated by things that may not seem all that fascinating to others. I love the small Texas towns that you can drive through when you get off the interstates. Many of them still have a true town square and still look like an Old West city. On this drive, one of those towns that we passed through was Goliad and we were somewhat surprised to discover the Presidio.
Driving past it caught our attention, but it was around 6pm so it was closed for the day. When we got home we did some research to see what this place was and we were surprised to see that its one of the most historically important areas of Texas, yet it seems to be largely ignored when learning about the Texas Revolution.
I've always known about the Alamo and visited there several times, but I never knew about Goliad - where more people died than at the Alamo. In fact the phrase "Remember Goliad" was once as commonly heard as "Remember the Alamo". Its kind of sad to me that Goliad seems to be largely forgotten now that the Alamo has become pretty commercialized and touristy. I guess that's the downside of Goliad being a small little town - it can't compete with the lure of San Antonio.
The Presidio itself is reconstructed to look like the original, but the chapel there is the original (it was built in the 1700s and has been in continuous use since then). There's a small museum where you can learn about the Goliad Massacre.
We visited in March, a few weeks after initially discovering this place, during the annual re-enactment of the Goliad Massacre, and if you have the opportunity to see this, you definitely should. The battle re-enactment is fantastic and you can walk around through the re-enactor's camp sites and talk to them. Most of them are very knowledgeable about what they are re-enacting. In the evening after the battle re-enactment there is a living history tour where you can watch and experience what it was like the night before the massacre. This nighttime tour was done amazingly well - between the Mexicans gloating about their victory and preparing to murder all of the Texas prisoners, to the Texans being unaware that they are about to be murdered, to the wounded that lay dying in the chapel (this part was done so well that it comes with a warning that its "gory and disturbing"). I've been to several battle re-enactments and this one was by far, the best one. This surprised me because of the fact that it seems like such an unknown thing.
The only good thing about Goliad being largely ignored and forgotten about by most people, is that the crowds that exist at the Alamo don't exist here. I've always felt rushed and claustrophobic at the Alamo because of the massive amounst of people there, but at the Presidio la Bahia, there are no crowds. There was a larger turnout than I expected for the battle re-enactment, but it still wasn't an overbearing and suffocating crowd. Its definitely a place for history buffs to visit, especially if you don't want to go to the highly commercialized Alamo.
All in all, my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit here. We learned a lot about Texas history that we never knew, and highly recommend this to anyone who loves history OR to anyone living in Texas since its part of their history that shouldn't be forgotten. I'm still amazed that this is not a place that is very well known. I'm very happy that we decided to drive a back road that passed through Goliad that one day, otherwise we may never have known that this existed.
As a side note, you can spend the night inside the Presidio. The old Officer's Quarters have been turned into a B&B type room. We want to come back one day to stay here. It seems like an amazing thing to do (based on the reviews found in the accommodations section). From what I understand, you will be the only people on the grounds at night and you can roam around and experience everything completely alone. To me that sounds like a history lover's dream! Hopefully we will get to do that one day. In the meantime though, I am looking forward to attending the re-enactment again next year!