Santa Fe Things to Do Tips by VeronicaG Top 5 Page for this destination
Santa Fe Things to Do: 220 reviews and 433 photos
If you are interested in modern art reflecting today's Indian culture, then this museum is for you. We were a little confused about what we were looking for and walked into the IAIA thinking it was a museum on ancient culture.
Films of Inuit customs showing hunting techniques, the preparation of hides and making oil from fat was a great glimpse into a culture much different from ours. We truly enjoyed learning how the Inuits live and cope in their harsh environment.
The works in oils, bronzes, charcoal and glass illustrate what is happening in American Indian art currently and reflects their interpretation of the old traditions. A gift shop offering reasonable prices is worth a stop before leaving the museum.
Hours are 10am-5pm. Mon.-Sat.;12N to 5pm Sun. Admission is $4.00
Address: 108 Cathedral Pl., Santa Fe, New Mexico
San Miguel Church
The whitewashed interior of San Miguel highlights the large painted and carved sceen behind the altar. This work was executed by an anonymous artist in the style of the Laguna Santero school, similar to pieces found in other churches in New Mexico. Restoration of this piece was done around 1955.
The sanctuary must have been a peaceful place for meditation. You could almost feel the presence of those who worshipped there in quiet repose. Saints and angels peered down from the immense screen as congregants lifted up their prayers to God. I think it still has a sacred atmosphere.
The San Jose bell is stationed at the rear of the sanctuary, which is thought to have been cast in Spain in 1356. It was placed at San Miguel Church in the early 1800's (picture #2). An old creche is located nearby and has been displayed in a niche illustrating the thick walls of this structure (picture #3).
Address: 401 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM
La Plazuela (from the hotel brochure)
My dilemma was in how to classify this historic inn/restaurant. I think everyone should stop by to see it, so I'm including it in my THINGS TO DO tips.
La Fonda Inn (established in 1607) has a genuine feel of the Southwest with its thick walls, Spanish tiled floors and dark wood interior. Would you believe, the Santa Fe Trail ends at its doors? Wonderful paintings grace the massive lobby, from which you can access the hotel restaurants or other shops (pictures #2-3). At check-in, an immense wood carved counter commands one's attention.
La Plazuela, a lovely Spanish-style restaurant in vibrant colors of torquoise and green sits off the lobby. This dining room replaced a former courtyard. Since it was not opened for lunch, we shifted into plan B.
We grabbed a table in the busy lobby and ordered something from the hotel's La Fiesta Lounge (picture #4). The chicken quesadilla was crispy; the chicken topped with just the right amount of melted cheese. Umm, it tasted all the better in the lovely surroundings. The French Pastry Shop, could be accessed from this area, as well.
UPDATE: We had the pleasure of dining at La Plazuela on our second visit to Santa Fe in October '07 and loved its cheerful ambiance! I ordered a filet mignon that was just delectable!
Address: 100 E.San Francisco St.,Santa Fe, NM
Directions: At the corner of San Francisco St. and Old Santa Fe Trail
The Oldest House
Although the beams in this home date from 1646, the 'oldest house' rests on part of the foundation to an ancient Indian Pueblo dating from approximately 1200 AD-- this Tano speaking tribe came originally from the north, but moved to the south around 1435 AD. to perhaps seek better hunting grounds.
The home is a example of how the early Tlaxcalan Indian and Spanish settlers lived. It features various items used for household purposes or that afforded survival in this period (see infants cradle in picture #2). Don Juan de Onate led Spanish settlers to this area in 1598. They were joined by Tlaxcalan indian warrior groups, who formed their own barrio in the area.
The Great Pueblo Indian Rebellion caused the Tlaxcalan great suffering when their homes were burned and many killed. The survivors joined the Spaniards to defend the town, but only a few returned to live.
The oldest house became a temporary residence to Spanish Territorial Governor Chacon Medina Salazar, while San Miguel Church was being repaired after the uprising (1709-10).
It's interesting to note that until the 1920's, the oldest house was continually occupied by many people from all the cultures represented in Santa Fe.
Hours are 10am-3pm (winter); 9am-5pm (summer) Monday-Saturday. $1 admission. A small gift shop is on the premises (picture #3)
Address: 215 E. de Vargas, Santa Fe, NM
Directions: Across from San Miguel Mission
San Miguel Church is beautiful in its simplicity. It was constructed by Tlaxcalan Indians from Mexico 'under the auspices of Fray Alonso de Benevides' in 1610.
The church's original adobe walls remain beneath the stucco exterior. The original roof was destroyed during the Pueblo Indian revolt of 1680. Once Santa Fe was resettled, a new roof was constructed and other repairs made in 1694 through 1710. This project was overseen by General Diego de Vargas.
Note the large buttresses on either side of the center tower as you enter the church. They were placed here for added support in 1887.
Picture #2 Wood ceiling in San Miguel's sanctuary
This church is said to be the oldest in America. A small charge of $1 helps to maintain the structure. Hours are Mon.-Sat. 9am-5pm and Sun.10am-4pm.
Address: 401 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM
After a stroll around the plaza, we followed the Old Santa Fe Trail, which is a street now. It led us to this pretty little chapel.
Construction of Loretto Chapel (1873) was commissioned by Jean Baptiste Lamy, a French priest sent to Santa Fe to bring about a separation of the devoted Catholics of New Mexico from those of Mexico.
Lamy was overseeing work on St. Francis Cathedral, so used his laborers and craftsmen to construct the Loretto Chapel, as well. Being enamoured with European architecture, he chose details of that style for both churches.
At Lamy's urging, nuns from Missouri arrived to establish a school in Santa Fe in 1853. Several years later, when funding grew short and the chapel needed work, the nuns fervently prayed for help. One day an unknown carpenter appeared in town--was he an answer to their prayers?
One of his projects (1878) was to build a staircase which would reach from the floor of the sanctuary to the top of the choir loft. The carpenter crafted a spiraling wood staircase which made two complete turns on its journey towards the ceiling, yet seemingly having no visible support. Some said it was 'miraculous" (see picture #2).
Once his work was finished, the carpenter disappeared and never received payment for his work. He purportedly ended up in Las Cruces, where he met an untimely end.
Hours are 9:00am-5:00pm Mon.-Sat.; 10:30am-5pm on Sun. Admission is $2.50. A gift shop has been added to the church (see picture #3).The chapel has been desanctified and is privately owned; weddings are still performed here.
Address: 211 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Buffalo Head Sculpture by Holly Hughes
Santa Fe is home to the arts community and the Capitol emphasizes this by its art collection. In fact, the Capitol itself is a fine example of Greek Revival architecture.
Artwork employing various mediums is on display here: sculptures, oil paintings, water colors, mosaics, weavings, quilting, wood carvings and many local crafts highlighting New Mexico's artisans. Traveling exhibitions are presented, as well. Traversing its corridors feels like touring an art museum!
I think the most unusual piece was Holly Hughes' Buffalo head sculpture, which contained scraps of newspaper, ribbons, fabric swatches, paint brushes and everyday items used in a imaginative way. I could never have dreamed up something like that!
Please see the various examples of art exhibited at the Capitol Building (pictures#3-5)
Address: 491 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe,New Mexico
Directions: The Capitol Building
The Arts District--Canyon Road
You absolutely cannot visit Santa Fe without a drive along Canyon Road. This is the arts district--which begins on the corner of Peralta and Canyon Roads and where about 80 art galleries are located.
This part of town became popular when a group of realist painters known as "Cinco de Pintores" (the 5 artists) built their homes along an intersection in this area in the 1920's. The major of those being Will Shuster who originated the celebration of Zozobra (which heralds the Fall social season on the Thursday after Labor Day).
As you progress along this route, you'll see exquisite bronze sculptures; gyrating kinetic wind sculptures; colorfully painted artist's studios, a flash of intimate little courtyards and usually experience the crush of tourists.
However, we visited Santa Fe in the winter time, which spared us the hoards of people, yet gave us the opportunity to see the glorious mountains topped with snow. I discovered a gallery I found very exciting--Waxlander Galleries, which is detailed in a shopping tip.
We caught a glimpse of a picturesque little restaurant or two as we traveled along Canyon Road. I imagine it would be a pleasant destination in the summer where one could come to appreciate the arts culture or to have a glass of wine in an interesting setting.
Address: Canyon Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Directions: Beginning at Peralta and Canyon Roads
The Plaza in Autumn
Almost everything of interest was walkable from this Central Plaza in Santa Fe. It is typically laid out with the Governor's Palace situated at one end, with an abundance of interesting shops and businesses following along the square.
A soldiers monument sits in the center of the plaza, which was dedicated in 1867. This commemorates those who died fighting the Indians. However, the original inscription has been altered to read...dedicated to those who died in "battles with ____ Indians in the territory of New Mexico".
Apparently the word "savage" was offensive to some folks so was removed.
Directions: In the center of town
St. Francis Cathedral
Soon after I snapped this photo the snow fell all afternoon and in an hour's time the walks were covered with it. I was grateful I had taken a picture of St. Francis Cathedral while the weather was clear!
St. Francis Cathedral was designed by Jean Baptiste Lamy, a French Priest sent to be a good shepherd to the Catholics of New Mexico in 1851. He was determined to construct a church worthy of any found in Europe, so imported craftsmen from Italy. Special consideration was given in selecting stained glass from France.
Apparently, Lamy arranged a loan from an affluent Jewish businessman to fund the construction, which began in 1869 and took 15 years to build. When funds ran out, spires that were meant to grace each side of the church were not built. The church remains without them to this day.
Although we did not go inside, the church is said to have preserved an old adobe chapel which has been integrated into the main structure.
Address: 131 Cathedral Place, Santa Fe, New Mexico
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