San Carlos Cathedral
(Royal Presidio Chapel)


The San Carlos Cathedral is the oldest building on the Monterey Peninsula and the oldest church in continuous use in California. Its original designation was Royal Presidio Chapel, as it was used for worship by the Spanish Governors, representatives of the King of Spain, and was situated within the first presidio built in California. Map.

The existing San Carlos Cathedral is the fourth chapel to be situated at the original Presidio of Monterey. The first two were pole and brush, while the third was adobe with stone foundations. The current building was completed in 1794 under the direction of Father Fermin de Lasuén.

It became known as the San Carlos Church after secularization, and was designated a cathedral in 1850. In 1968 it was again designated a cathedral, the smallest in the country.


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