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Old Town is a neighborhood of the City of San Diego. It is the oldest settled area in San Diego and is the site of the first European settlement in present-day California. It contains Old Town San Diego State Historic Park and Presidio Park, both of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Old Town is bounded by Interstate 8 on the north, Interstate 5 on the west, Mission Hills on the east and Bankers Hill on the south. It is just a short walk from the San Diego Trolley Transit Center and a short drive from most San Diego destinations.
Old Town San Diego is the birthplace of San Diego. It was the beginning of colonization of California. In 1769, Father Junipero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan Friar and a group of Spanish soldiers built a mission named "San Diego de Alcala" and a Presidio military fort on a hill near a Native American village inhabited by descendants of the ancient Kumeyaay Indians. That hill is the present day location of "Presidio Park." A few years after the original mission was built it was moved a several miles inland to Mission Valley. The Presidio fort remained as protective security since the hill had a clear view of San Diego Bay where ship arrivals could be seen. With Mexico gaining its independence from Spain, all the land was relinquished to Mexico in 1821. Immigrating Mexicans created a community of adobe buildings at the base of the hill. This small community became what is known as Old Town San Diego.
Today, the State of California has designated the site below Presidio Hill as "Historic Old Town San Diego" to preserve the rich Spanish and Mexican heritage that characterized San Diego during the 1821 to 1872 period. Many of the buildings from that era still stand and new structures have since been built to house the amenities, theaters, artisans, art galleries, museums, boutique shops and restaurants which are all located within convenient walking distance. The historic flavor of Old Town has been preserved and protected and is a charming place to visit to connect with its rich historic past, and now Old Town has become almost like a "theme park."
In addition, a variety of annual events are popular in Old Town. San Diego's Cinco de Mayo celebration is held in this community, and the Old Town Art Festival also takes place in October of each year. Fiesta Navidad is a two-day Christmas festival in December, highlighted by the Mexican tradition of Las Posadas, which re-enacts the story of Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem for the first Christmas.
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