During its history, ownership of San Antonio has been claimed by six different governments. Rule by France, Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America and the United States of America has shaped San Antonio, as each culture has left its mark. San Antonio is well known as a party going city. Fiestas and festivals abound. Downtown San Antonio retains an Old World feeling as narrow streets, plazas, and Spanish architecture blend with modern skyscrapers. San Antonio lies on the edge of the Texas Hill country, considered by many to be the most scenic area in the state. Much of San Antonio can be explored on foot.
In 1718 Spanish Friar Antonio Olivares established Mission San Antonio de Valero. The site became part of history in 1836 as "The Alamo", where 189 volunteer freedom fighters died after holding the old mission against some 4,000 Mexican troops for 13 days. Today The Alamo still stands, dwarfed by twentieth century buildings, as a shrine and museum. Since mission times, the San Antonio River has been the key to the city's fortunes. A careful landscaping plan in 1939 created the Paseo del Rio, or River Walk, which is now the aesthetic and commercial focus of San Antonio.