From Mission To Capital
Los Adaes, the symbol of New Spain in Louisiana, was once the capital of Texas and the scene of a unique cooperation among the French, the Spanish and the indigenous Native Americans.
Los Adaes dates back to the early 1700s when a Franciscan missionary from New Spain (now Mexico), Father Francisco Hidalgo, urged the French governor of Louisiana to establish a post near east Texas. The founding of Natchitoches in 1714 by the Frenchman St.Denis and the subsequent construction there of Fort St. Jean Baptiste had the predicted effect. The easternmost of the missions, San Miguel, was built among the Adaes Indians, only 15 miles from the French Fort St. Jean Baptiste. In 1729, Spain designated Los Adaes the capital of the province of Texas. The French took advantage of supply shortages at Los Adaes, and an illicit trade soon flourished between the two posts. The Indians traded with both sides and this commerce became so important that Natchitoches suffered a recession when Los Adaes closed in 1773.
An area rich in archaeological finds, it thrives today as one of Louisiana’s most intriguing state Historic Sites. The 14-acre site located on the “El Camino Real” near Natchitoches features the remains of a Spanish fort built in the 1700s to protect Texas from the French. It is a major archaeological site and offers interpretive programs.
We hope that you’ll include a visit to Los Adaes State Historic Site in your Natchitoches visit to further understand and appreciate the customs and cultures of the early inhabitants of the Natchitoches area.
Los Adaes State Historic Site is located in the Natchitoches area, one mile northeast of Robeline, Louisiana, between Fort Jesup SHS and Fort St. Jean Baptiste SHS. From I-49, exit onto LA 6 west. Turn right onto LA 485 and follow the signs. Tours are available by appointment only.