Santa Fe is one of our favorite places to visit. It is a city filled with history, creativity and wonder. It is the capital of the of New Mexico and was originally occupied by a number of Pueblo Indian villages with founding dates between 1050 to 1150. One of the earliest known settlements in what today is downtown Santa Fe came sometime after 900. Later, Don Juan de Onate led the first effort to colonize the region in 1598, establishing Santa Fé de Nuevo México as a province of New Spain.
Santa Fe, previously known as the Royal Town of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi, is at least the third oldest surviving American city founded by European colonists, behind the oldest St. Augustine, Florida (1565). The Adobe architecture is striking and we were impressed with the city’s efforts to maintain the heritage of this building style.
We spent most of our time visiting the historical churches in Santa Fe.
Needing a way to get up to the choir loft the nuns prayed for St. Joseph’s intercession for nine straight days. On the day after their novena ended a shabby looking stranger appeared at their door. He told the nuns he would build them a staircase but that he needed total privacy and locked himself in the chapel for three months. He used a small number of primitive tools including a square, a saw and some warm water and constructed a spiral staircase entirely of non-native wood. The identity of the carpenter is not known for as soon as the staircase was finally finished he was gone. Many witnesses, upon seeing the staircase, feel it was constructed by St. Joseph himself, as a miraculous occurrence. The resulting staircase is an impressive work of carpentry. It ascends twenty feet, making two complete revolutions up to the choir loft without the use of nails or apparent center support. It has been surmised that the central spiral of the staircase is narrow enough to serve as a central beam. Nonetheless there was no attachment unto any wall or pole in the original stairway, although in 1887 — 10 years after it was built — a railing was added and the outer spiral was fastened to an adjacent pillar. Instead of metal nails, the staircase was constructed using dowels or wooden pegs.
After our tours of the churches we went to the art district and enjoyed many of the galleries on Canyon Road. We ended our tour at Kakawa Chocolate House. The following quote is from the 1928 Santa Fe Fiesta Program and describes the flamboyant vibe in Santa Fe. “This year we are making a studied conscious effort not to be studied or conscious. Santa Fe is now one of the most interesting art centers in the world and you, O Dude of the East, are privileged to behold the most sophisticated group in the country gamboling freely… And Santa Fe, making you welcome, will enjoy itself hugely watching the Dude as he gazes. Be sure as you stroll along looking for the quaint and picturesque that you are supplying your share of those very qualities to Santa Fe, the City Incongruous… Be yourself, even if it includes synthetic cowboy clothes, motor goggles and a camera.”
Later we explored the Santa Fe Rail Yard park It’s a 10 acre park designed to show off Santa Fe’s creativity while maintaining the rich rail yard history. We had a lovely time exploring the park and taking photographs.
We look forward to visiting this fun city again down the line and highly recommend it as a vacation destination.