Spain, which ruled Mexico for 300 years ending in 1821, paid little attention to its northeastern frontier until French settlers built outposts near the Red River in Louisiana. The Spanish responded by establishing missions in East Texas in the 1690s, and in 1718 a way station was built at today's San Antonio. This outpost consisted of a presidio (military barracks) and the Mission San Antonio de Valero (now the Alamo). To convert the area's large Native American population to Christianity, another mission, San Jose, was founded down river in 1720. Eleven years later three of the East Texas missions, now known as Conception, San Juan, and Espada, were moved to the San Antonio River. All the missions became parish churches in the 1790s. Mission San Antonio de Valero, which became a military barracks and the site of a famous battle for Texas independence in 1836, is now a museum and shrine. The four down-river mission churches remain active parishes.