Historic Santa Fe New Mexico
Santa Fe, New Mexico is a living step back in history. The area has been inhabited since around 900 A.D. While Europe was in the Dark Ages and the Vikings were laying siege to Paris, the Pueblo people were living in this area.
The Spanish arrived and established Santa Fe in 1607, the same year as the founding of Jamestown, Virginia and Quebec City in Canada. In the U.S., only the Acoma Pueblo (about 60 miles west) and St. Augustine , Florida have been continuously inhabited for longer. Sites from the original settlement are present and in use. The Palace of the Governor was built in 1609.
San Miguel Chapel, built in 1610, is the oldest church in the United States and still holds mass.. Santa Fe has been part of Spain, Mexico,Republic of Texas, and the United States. In 1912, Santa Fe wisely chose to keep its artistic and historic feel intact by passing building codes and restrictions that have allowed Santa Fe to keep the feel of a living museum. Historic structures have been preserved and newer buildings blend in with adobe facades.
People come to Santa Fe for the art, architecture, history, and culture. Lying at the southern tip of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the surrounding area is also beautiful. The streets of Santa Fe are pedestrian friendly; find a parking spot and you are ready to explore.
Our family’s favorite experiences were walking the streets, enjoying the architecture and history, touring the churches, and browsing art museums and shops.
Three churches stood out. First is the San Miguel Chapel (1610) mentioned above.
Second is the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi (1860).
Lastly, but having the best story, is the Loretto Chapel (1872).
The Loretto Chapel was originally called Our Lady of Light Chapel. It was built as a convent chapel for the Sisters of Loretto. Having completed construction, the only way to the balcony was up a ladder, which was not optimal for nuns in habits. A normal staircase would take too much room. The sisters prayed. A humble carpenter arrived with simple tools and said that he could build stairs. Over the next three months, the carpenter built the first set of spiral, non- anchored stairs in the United States, then left as quickly as he came, without asking payment. The sisters believed that the carpenter was Saint Joseph (the earthly father of Jesus). The Miraculous Stairs, as they have become known, are alone worth the stop inside the chapel
Numerous art museums and shops line the plaza and Museum Hill (a short distance from the plaza) including the New Mexico Museum of Art and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Native American art is prominent, but there is also much Spanish and contemporary art to browse and enjoy. Local artisans ply their wares in front of the Palace of the Governor.
Meandering through Old Town Santa Fe is a wonderful trip back in time that immerses you in the Pueblo, Spanish, Western, artsy culture of this amazing city.
Make Santa Fe, New Mexico part of your family travel plans.