"Remember the Alamo" is a phrase many Americans, including children, recognize. But not everyone knows all the facts about the fort. The story of the Alamo starts on Feb. 23, 1836, when General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna led thousands of Mexican troops to begin a siege on the Alamo. The Americans inside the fort, which numbered at most 200, kept the invaders at bay for 13 days before they were overtaken. The events that unfolded over almost two weeks continue to be an important part of American history.

The People Involved

The Alamo at night
The Alamo at night

Davy Crockett is a well-known American icon, but not everyone knows he was at the Alamo throughout the Mexican siege. James Bowie and William Travis are additional men who fought to protect the Alamo from invasion. Spanish and Mexican people, including soldiers, actually used the Alamo as a fort long before the Americans ever did, and it was the migration of American families to the area around the Alamo that contributed to war conflicts in later years. Between 1,800 and 6,000 people were involved in the invasion of the fort. Once they breached the entrance, almost all of the Texans inside were killed.

The Building Itself

Re-enactors stand in front of the Alamo at dawn
Re-enactors stand in front of the Alamo at dawn

The current Alamo isn't located in the original spot of the site that began as a mission. The fort was relocated from its first location in 1719, and a storm in 1724 forced it to be relocated again to its present location. The current location, however, is the only place it's been with the name of "The Alamo." The only original parts of the building that still remain are the church and the lower floor of the barracks, according to the PBS website. Archeologists have uncovered additional items and artifacts, suggesting it was much larger than what's left for tourists to see today.

What Happened After the Battle

Detail view of the facade on the Alamo
Detail view of the facade on the Alamo

After the battle at the Alamo, Mexican forces took over the fort and kept control until May 1836. Upon orders, the Mexican forces demolished some of the fort's walls as they withdrew. The U.S. Army later took possession of the fort and used it as a storage warehouse during the 1870s. The state of Texas bought the Alamo in 1883 and the Daughters of the Republic of Texas maintain and manage the sight, which remains a tourist destination near present day San Antonio, Texas.

Visiting the Alamo

Aerial view of the Alamo in San Antonio, TX.
Aerial view of the Alamo in San Antonio, TX.

The Alamo is open to the public and draws many tourists each year. Visitors aren't allowed to take photographs inside the structure because flash photography can damage the integrity of the artifacts that remain inside, according to TheAlamo.org website. Men must remove their hats and all visitors must use soft voices out of reverence for the sacred spot. The tourist destination includes 4.2 acres of history, and in addition to the actual Alamo building, also includes the Alamo Gardens and exhibits about the Texas Revolution and the history of Texas in general.