COWBOY boots, 10 gallon hats, rodeos that is as much as I know about Texas. It is the USA's biggest state, so I thought, apparently it's not, it's only the second.

Texas is nicknamed the Lone Star State, as to why I never knew. Apparently it signifies the state as an independent republic, a reminder of the state's struggle for independence from Mexico.

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Then there is the Alamo. It is in Texas but exactly where, I didn't know until the day I set foot on my first Texas stop, San Antonio.

There is more, my mental picture of the fort would be grand in scale, pretty much like our very own Fort Santiago. It was not. Historically, it is grand, the tales of seemingly unending war that shaped a city.

San Antonio was originally named Mission San Antonio de Valero, a fortress compound that is home to Spanish missionaries and their Indian converts during the 18th century.

From the river where the presidio was originally built upon the arrival of the Spanish missionaries, the fort was moved to its present site, it was 1724 when the construction began. In 1793, Spanish officials secularized San Antonio's five missions and distributed their lands to remaining Indian residents.

Alamo, its name may have been derived from the grove of nearby cottonwood trees, known in Spanish as lamo or probably from the company of Spanish soldiers who occupied the compound in 1803 known as the Second Flying Company of San Carlos de Parras from the Alamo de Parras in Coahuila aka the "Alamo Company" as the locals call them.

Endless fighting, loss of countless lives and tragedy seem to encompass much of the Alamo's past.

War between the Spanish and American Indians, the on and off Mexican and American, the American Civil War and close to two hundred years after, even the sisters of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (the governing body today) who took pains in acquiring the rights to preserve the historical site got into a battle as to how the mission should be preserved and then there is the ownership dispute with the Latin American citizens.

Centuries of playing a bloody game of invaders and defenders and ultimately, control, not much different from the world we live in now.

"Remember the Alamo" reminds everyone of the soldiers who tragically lost their lives in defending the fort in the mission's historic battle. It is now listed in the US Register of Historic Places and the US National Historic Landmark.

This site is probably the number one entry on every visitor's list making it the most visited site in San Antonio, the most popular historic sites in the US. More than four million and counting, that's how much visitors it welcomes each year from the 2002 record. You can add me on the list now.

It is pretty much a short tour around the complex, there is the chapel (no photos inside please. The original bullet-ridden thick doors of the fort would have made a nice subject), the Long Barracks where there is a small museum where you can view the paintings, weapons, and other artifacts from the era of the Texas Revolution.

Another building holds an additional display of artifacts alongside a large diorama recreating the compound as it existed in 1836. Another interesting touch to the place is the Wall of History, portraying the history of the Alamo complex from its mission days to modern times.

The lush, green garden is a cool and quiet refuge from the Texas heat and tourists. The steady trickle of the water fountain and glittering pond makes it more relaxing. I call it the recharging area before you set foot and explore more of San Antonio’s wonders.

Traveling is the best education again holds true and the cliche‚ scores another point. I only heard of the Alamo then and now I know of the place having equipped myself of the knowledge of its history. I strongly suggest you do the same- see the world not only with books but with your own eyes as well.