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Santa Fe, New Mexico
The high desert city of Santa Fe (elevation 7,000 feet) is located about 50 miles northeast of Albuquerque, where the desert meets the ponderosa pine and aspen forests of northern New Mexico. Although the quickest way to reach Santa Fe is along I25, by far the most scenic route is the 48-mile Turquoise Trail, which winds through the foothills of the Sandia Mountains.

Santa Fe has the distinction of being the oldest capital city in the United States. The Palace of the Governors, the oldest building in Santa Fe, was built in 1609 and was the home to the provincial governors of New Spain for 200 years. It later housed three other seats of government—Mexican, Confederate, and American. Today, this beautiful adobe building houses a museum devoted to New Mexico history. In the portal outside the building, Native American vendors sell still their wares, much as their ancestors did in centuries past.

The plaza, which runs along the south side of the Palace, has served as Santa Fe’s village green for centuries. In fact, a stone marker in the southeastern corner of the plaza marks the official end of the 700-mile Santa Fe Trail, over which hundreds of pioneers and traders traveled in the early 1800s. Today it is still the vibrant heart of the city with outdoor performers and vendors selling everything from fine Southwestern art to kitsch.

Besides being the capital of New Mexico, Santa Fe is also its cultural center with hundreds of museums, art galleries, and live events. It is a very multicultural city, having been home to Spanish, Mexican, and Native American people for centuries. This mixing of cultures brings an interesting diversity to its history and art. Most of the art galleries are located on the plaza or along Canyon Road. In addition to the culture, people come to Santa Fee to enjoy its fine southwestern cuisine, lovely adobe architecture, and narrow cobblestone streets.

Here are just a few of the many things to see and do when in Santa Fe:

Santa Fe Vacation Rentals

Palace of the Governors – oldest building in Santa Fe which today contains a museum of New Mexico history.
Santa Fe Plaza – vendors and outdoor performers along the oldest village green in the country
San Miguel Mission – the oldest church structure in North America (built in the 1626)
Loretto Chapel – contains the “Miraculous Staircase” which has 360 degree spirals and yet no visible means of support
Canyon Road – narrow road (once an Indian trail) lined with art galleries and upscale shops and restaurants
Georgia O’Keefe Museum - the 13,000 square-foot museum which houses a permanent collection of O'Keeffe's art
Much, more.

Between 1821 and 1880, the Santa Fe Trail was primarily a commercial highway connecting Missouri and Santa Fe, New Mexico. From 1821 until 1846, it was an international commercial highway used by Mexican and American traders. In 1846, the Mexican-American War began. The Army of the West followed the Santa Fe Trail to invade New Mexico. When the Treaty of Guadalupe ended the war in 1848, the Santa Fe Trail became a national road connecting the United States to the new southwest territories. Commercial freighting along the trail continued, including considerable military freight hauling to supply the southwestern forts. The trail was also used by stagecoach lines, thousands of gold seekers heading to the California and Colorado gold fields, adventurers, fur trappers, and emigrants. In 1880 the railroad reached Santa Fe and the trail faded into history.

The Santa Fe National Forest is one of the five National Forests in New Mexico. The National Forests are America's great outdoors, here to serve the American people at work and play. Some of the finest mountain scenery in the Southwest is found in the 1.6 million acres covered by the Santa Fe National Forest. Elevations rise from 5,300 to 13,103 feet at the summit of Truchas Peak, located within the Pecos Wilderness.

Santa Fe, which means "Holy Faith," was founded in 1607 (the second oldest town in the U.S.) and joined the United States of America in 1912. The full name of our city, the location of New Mexico's state capitol, is "La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asis," or "The Royal City of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi."

We have an average of 300 sunny days a year and great skiing in the winter. We have lots of rooms for guests (4,500), fabulous Northern New Mexico cuisine, art galleries, shops, and a world-famous opera.

Kiowa poet N. Scott Momaday remarked that the American West "is a place that has to be seen to be believed, and it may have to be believed in order to be seen."

The City of Santa Fe was originally occupied by a number of Pueblo Indian villages with founding dates between 1050 to 1150.

The "Kingdom of New Mexico" was first claimed for the Spanish Crown by the conquistador don Francisco Vasques de Coronado in 1540, 70 years before the founding of Santa Fe. Coronado and his men also traveled to the Grand Canyon and through the Great Plains on their New Mexico expedition.

Spanish colonists first settled in northern New Mexico in 1598. Don Juan de Oñate became the first Governor and Captain-General of New Mexico and established his capital in 1598 at San Juan Pueblo, 25 miles north of Santa Fe. When Oñate retired, Don Pedro de Peralta was appointed Governor and Captain-General in 1609. One year later, he moved the capital to present-day Santa Fe. New Mexico was part of the empire of New Spain and Santa Fe was the commercial hub at the end of thewhich linked Mexico City with its northern province.

During the next 70 years, Spanish soldiers and officials, as well as Franciscan missionaries , sought to subjugate and convert the Pueblo Indians of the region. The indigenous population at the time was close to 100,000 people, who spoke nine languages and lived in an estimated 70 pueblos, many of which exist today.

In 1680, Pueblo Indians revolted against some 2,500 Spanish colonists, killing 400 of them and driving the rest back into Mexico. The conquering Pueblos sacked Santa Fe and burned most of the buildings, except the Palace of the Governors. Pueblo Indians occupied Santa Fe until 1692-93, when don Diego de Vargas reestablished Spanish control.

When Mexico gained its independence from Spain, Santa Fe became the capital of the province of New Mexico. Trade was no longer restricted as it was under Spanish rule and trappers and traders moved into the region. In 1821 William Becknell opened the 1,000 mile-long Santa Fe Trail.

On August 18, 1846, in the early period of the Mexican American War, an American army general, Stephen Watts Kearny, took Santa Fe and raised the American flag over the Plaza. Two years later, 1848, Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ceding New Mexico and California to the United States.

In 1851, Vicar Apostolic, and later Archbishop of Santa Fe, Jean B. Lamy, arrived in Santa Fe. Eighteen years later, he began construction on the Saint Francis Cathedral, one of 45 churches he built in New Mexico. Built in the French Romanesque style, the building is alien to the Spanish heritage of Santa Fe, but is still one of its greatest landmarks. Constructed on the site of an adobe church destroyed in the Pueblo Revolt, the Cathedral was built of locally quarried stone. Portions of the old adobe parish church (La Parroquia), remain in the form of the Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary, which houses a wooden stature of the Virgin know as La Conquistadora, Our Lady of the Conquest. La Conquistadora was first brought to Santa Fe in 1625 and was returned to the city by the armies of don Diego de Vargas during the reconquest of 1692-93.

For 27 days in March and April of 1862, the Confederate flag of Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley flew over Santa Fe until he was defeated by Union troops. With the arrival of the telegraph in 1868 and the coming of the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe Railroad in 1880, Santa Fe and New Mexico underwent an economic revolution. Corruption in government, however, accompanied the growth, and President Rutherford B. Hayes appointed Lew Wallace as a territorial governor to "clean up New Mexico." Wallace did such a good job that Billy the Kid threatened to come up to Santa Fe and kill him.

New Mexico gained statehood in 1912 and Santa Fe has been the capital city since statehood.

Ten years before Plymouth Colony was founded by the Mayflower Pilgrims, Santa Fe, New Mexico was established as the seat of power of the Spanish Empire north of the Rio Grande. Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in the United States and the oldest European community in the U.S. west of the Mississippi. The Palace of the Governors, on the north side of the Plaza, is the oldest public building in the United States.

Santa Fe boasts the United States’ oldest public building, church, house and neighborhood. It has 10 major museums and some 200 world-class art galleries, making it an art and history lover’s paradise.

Downtown Santa Fe is a National Historic District. At its heart is the Plaza. Bounded by Palace Avenue on the north, Old Santa Fe Trail on the east, San Francisco Street to the south, and Lincoln Avenue on the west. The park like Plaza is the main town square. On its north side is the Palace of the Governors, built in 1610 as Santa Fe’s original capitol building and first major structure. The one-story adobe spans the block and is the oldest U.S. public building still in continuous use.

The front portal is reserved for Native Americans to sell their traditional and contemporary jewelry, pottery, sand paintings, and other arts and crafts. They are there 360 days a year from 8 a.m. to dusk. The Native American Artisans Program of the Palace of the Governors provides an opportunity for these talented artists and craftspeople to market their original artwork in a venue that assures authenticity for the buyer. The goods displayed and sold by program participants must be made by the seller or by their household members.
Miraculous Staircase

East of the Plaza is a turquoise portico with shops, restaurants and courtyards, and the Sena Plaza. At the end of East San Francisco Street, is St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral. South on Old Santa Fe Trail is the Loretto Chapel erected in 1873-1878. Its choir loft staircase which makes two complete 360-degree spiral turns without center or side supports is said to be a “miraculous” architectural achievement. Legend has it that the chapel’s small size and choir loft height precluded a conventional staircase. Faced with using a ladder or rebuilding the balcony, the good sisters prayed to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters, and a carpenter appeared who constructed the staircase and mysteriously left without payment.

Further south on Old Santa Fe Trail is an area formerly known as Barrio de Analco and part of a National Historic District. Some homes date to the mid-18th century. On the eastern side of Old Santa Fe Trail at 215 East De Vargas Street is the oldest house in the United States, built around 1646. At the corner of Old Santa Fe Trail and East de Vargas is San Miguel Mission Church, said to be the country’s oldest church structure. The altar was built by Indians from Mexico in 1610, and mass is still celebrated every Sunday. The adobe Santuario de Guadalupe, west of the Plaza was built between 1776 and 1796. It holds a stunning altar painting and is the country’s oldest extant shrine to Our Lady of

Santa Fe has been a seat of government under the flags of Spain, Mexico, the Confederacy, and the United States of America. Courtesy of City of Santa Fe


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