To get an idea of Los Adaes Historic Site’s importance, it helps to go back — way back — to the earliest days of European settlement in Louisiana. In 1716, New Spain stretched from present-day southern Mexico to California. Northwest Louisiana was a sparsely populated outpost then, which was disputed territory claimed by France.
Thanks to the founding of Natchitoches in 1714 by a French Canadian named St. Denis (whose story is told at Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Site), Spain decided to send troops there, building their own fort and missions within just a few miles of Natchitoches and naming one mission Presidio Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Los Adaes.
After three tense years, French soldiers stormed Los Adaes, which was at the time guarded by only one soldier. Spain vowed to return. When that happened two years later, the Spanish built a new, stronger fort just two miles away from the first one, and brought more troops and more settlers — a wealthy landowner leading the charge, the Marques de Aguayo, even requested that prisoners convicted of non-serious offenses be sent to Los Adaes to live. This time the settlement was a success, so much that in 1729 Los Adaes became the capital of the Province of Texas.
Visit Los Adaes State Historic Site to see the grounds of where the fort (or presidio) once stood, as well as the museum where artifacts discovered there offer clues to the past.
Nearby attractions to Los Adaes include the oldest city in the Louisiana Purchase, Natchitoches, as well as Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Site and some of the South’s oldest plantation homes.
Entrance fee: No entry fee, but donations are accepted.
Operating hours: March through December: Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. January and February: the site is open by appointment only.