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Chapel on the Dunes, Port A’s hidden treasure

MAIN PHOTO: The walkway to Chapel on the Dunes in Port Aransas. INSET: The chapel's interior, which features biblical artwork and Gulf Coast views. Photos courtesy of Port Aransas Museum

Chapel on the Dunes is one of Port Aransas’ most iconic structures, but it’s also one of the easiest to miss. Even though it occupies one of the highest points on Mustang Island, it’s set back several feet in an old residential section of town and partially shrouded by plant life. It truly is a hidden treasure.

You’ll find the tiny white structure guarded by a lone palm tree at the end of a path up a tall dune. Walk inside this small chapel, which can barely hold 20 people, and you’ll see splashes of light and color from its stained-glass windows and murals covering practically every square-inch of walls and ceiling. Rays of sunlight peer through windows that face the Gulf of Mexico, a few blocks away. You can tour the chapel twice a month, but it’s open for exterior viewing between tours (detailed information below).

Chapel on the Dunes was a project of poet Aline B. Carter, who was the Poet Laureate of Texas from 1947-49. Also a harpist and an astronomer, Carter had the chapel built between 1937 and 1939 as a space to meditate and seek inspiration for her creative works.

A few years after her death in 1972, artist John Patrick Cobb began his own creative endeavor within its walls, filling them with colorful murals: Old Testament scenes on the north wall and New Testament scenes on the south.

Though it’s off the beaten path in Port Aransas and offers infrequent accessibility, a visit is worth the effort. You might even experience the sense of serenity that Carter sought and found there.

Chapel on the Dunes is located at 203 S. 11th St. in Port Aransas. Designated parking is near the walkway. As the chapel is in a residential area, be respectful of neighborhood residents.

The Port Aransas Museum holds tours of the chapel on the first and third Saturdays of the month. Reserve online or call 361-749-3800. You can also schedule a wedding or other special event.

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