Albuquerque Old Town Walk (Self Guided), Albuquerque

Albuquerque has a history that dates as far back as 12,000 years ago. The presence of Paleo-Indians are evident in Sandia Cave. Over the years, the people who lived in the region began to farm and build pueblos for their homes. European settlers arrived the area in the 16th century.

The city of Albuquerque was officially established in 1706. New Mexico Governer Francisco Cuervo y Valdés named the city after Francisco Fernández de la Cueva, 10th Duke of Alburquerque. A plaza was built with homes, offices and a church. At the beginning of the 18th century there were 19 families located around the plaza. By the end of the century, there were more tan 150.

Visitors to Albuquerque can still see the vestiges of the early days of European colonization. A day in Old Town let visitors see how the city has grown and changed over the years. Visitors can go to the Old Town Plaza, visit the San Felipe de Neri Church built in 1793, and then walk to the Salvador Armijo House to view the colonial architecture in the 19th century. They can also shop and dine in Old Town at places like The Candy Lady and Patio Escondido Mall.

Follow this self-guided walking tour to see these and other historic sights around the Albuquerque Old Town.
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Albuquerque Old Town Walk Map

Guide Name: Albuquerque Old Town Walk
Guide Location: USA » Albuquerque (See other walking tours in Albuquerque)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles
Author: doris
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Old Town Plaza
  • San Felipe de Neri Church
  • Plaza Hacienda
  • American International Rattlesnake Museum
  • Charles A. Bottger House
  • Albuquerque Museum
  • New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science
  • Candy Lady
  • Patio Escondido Mall
  • Salvador Armijo House
1
Old Town Plaza

1) Old Town Plaza

Old Town Plaza is a historic area of Albuquerque that is located between Mountain Road and Central Avenue. Visitors can easily stroll through the Old Town Plaza to enjoy a taste of New Mexico's history.

Old Town Plaza is the center of Old Town, which is thought of as the "Heart of Albuquerque." The area was founded in 1706 by Francisco Cuervo y Valdés, a knight of royal lineage who became governor of New Mexico.

The plaza is, understandably, located between North and South Plaza Streets. It consists of a green space and a central gazebo that is a focal point for many festivals and community gatherings.

Visitors can see a number of historic buildings from the vantage of Old Town Plaza. They will find San Felipe de Neri Church to the north, the Old Town Emporium to the south, the Yucca Art Gallery to the east and the Ampola Gallery to the west.

It's easy to reach any location in Old Town Albuquerque from the square. In fact, much of downtown Albuquerque is only a few minutes away by foot.
2
San Felipe de Neri Church

2) San Felipe de Neri Church (must see)

The San Felipe de Neri Church is a catholic church in the historic Old Town area of Albuquerque. The church was built in 1793, making it one of the oldest surviving buildings in the city.

The origins of San Felipe de Neri Church date to 1706 when a church was dedicated first to Francis Xavier, and then later to St. Philip Neri. That church stood for nearly 90 years when it collapsed due to disrepair.

Another church was immediately built on the site. That church is the one that worshipers continue to visit today. It was built at the behest of Fernando de la Concha, who was governor of New Mexico at that time.

San Felipe de Neri is a single nave church with thick adobe walls and wood furnishing. It underwent a drastic remodel in the 1860s, which added twin bell towers and gothic interior furnishings. Even more refurbishments took place in 1916, which is when the pressed tin ceiling was added.

Over the years, additional buildings were added to the church grounds. These include the rectory, a barn, a stable and a parish hall. Our Lady of the Angels School was added in 1878. It was Albuquerque's first public school.

The Sister Blandina Convent was constructed in 1881 and was used as a convent through the 1970s. It is now used as a gift shop and museum.

Visitors who wish to see San Felipe de Neri Church are welcome to attend services or stop by the museum. Though the church is only open during hours of service, visitors can admire the exterior architecture of the buildings at any time.

Why You Should Visit
- To see one of the oldest buildings in Albuquerque
- To appreciate the blend of architectural styles
- To see the city's first public school building

Tips
The museum and gift shop hours are irregular. Mass is held on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday at 7 AM; Saturday at 4 PM; and Sunday at 7 and 11 AM.
3
Plaza Hacienda

3) Plaza Hacienda

Plaza Hacienda is a great place to shop and dine while visiting Old Town Albuquerque. Visitors walk through traditional adobe buildings to find souvenirs or enjoy southwestern cuisine.

Within Plaza Hacienda is Backstreet Grill, a southwestern restaurant with local New Mexico beers on tap. Hacienda Del Rio offers Mexican-American meals within a historical building.

Genuine Southwest is an art gallery that only features work from New Mexico. Gallery 8 has jewelry and pottery with a distinct southwestern accent.

Southwestern Handcrafts is a southwestern gift shop. It is a good place to find authentic souvenir items to take home or give to others. Another good spot for shopping is Old Town Olive. Visitors can join the tasting room.

Visitors will enjoy stopping at any or even all of these spots in Plaza Hacienda. Those who don't wish to shop will still enjoy the atmosphere of the area that is only steps away from the Old Town Plaza and the San Felipe de Neri Church.
4
American International Rattlesnake Museum

4) American International Rattlesnake Museum

The American International Rattlesnake Museum is a conversation museum dedicated to educating the public about rattlesnakes and other reptiles.

The museum opened in 1990 with 34 species of rattlesnakes. Some of the live species in residence at the museum include the Baja California Rattlesnake, the Chihuahuan Ridgne-nose Rattlesnake, the Banded Rock Rattlesnake and the Mexican Lance-headed Rattlesnake. The museum also has a resident gila monster.

The museum also offers snake memorabilia across a wide range of categories. Some of the items on display are toys, movie posters, shoes, stamps, beverages and license plates.

The museum displays snakebite kits and anti-venom, religious artifacts, Native American artifacts, fossils and a film library featuring snakes. The on-site gift shop is popular with visitors who want to show off their trip to this unique space.

Located in Old Town, the museum rests at the corner of Old Town Road and San Felipe Street. It is a great stop between Old Town Plaza and the Charles A. Bottger House.

Opening Hours:
September - May: Mon-Fri: 11:30am-5:30pm; Sat: 10am-6pm; Sun: 1pm-5pm;
Summer: Mon-Sat: 10am-6pm; Sun: 1pm-5pm
5
Charles A. Bottger House

5) Charles A. Bottger House

The Charles A. Bottger House is a historic home that now operates as a bed and breakfast. It was originally built for businessman Charles Bottger when he moved to Albuquerque from New Jersey.

The home was designed by Edward B. Christy in the American Foursquare architectural style. The house has a metal tile roof, dormers, sun porches with glass wraps and wide eaves. It was built in 1912 on the land that had been owned by the stepfather of his wife, Tom Post.

The house was unique for its time in that it had modern conveniences that weren't typically seen. Some of these included a home intercom system via speaking tubes and a dumbwaiter.

The Charles A. Bottger House is on the National Register of Historic Places. Much of the house is original, which makes it uniquely outstanding among the few remaining homes that were built in the early 20th century. Visitors who love architecture and history should plan to stop by the house to appreciate its significance and style.
6
Albuquerque Museum

6) Albuquerque Museum (must see)

The Albuquerque Museum is dedicated to preserving the art of the American Southwest and the history of Albuquerque and the Middle Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico. The museum also contributes significantly to the cultural and educational programs in the city of Albuquerque. The museum features art of the Southwest and its global influences, as well as 400 years of Albuquerque history with permanent installations and special exhibitions of national and international origin. The museum was first opened as the Museum of Albuquerque in 1967 and located in the Albuquerque International Sunport. The collection outgrew the available space in the terminal, and the current location was built in 1979.

The museum's permanent exhibits include early maps, conquistador armor, weavings, and other artifacts of colonial life in New Mexico. The museum also hosts changing exhibits, a massive photo archive, art galleries, and maintains an outdoor sculpture garden on the grounds.

Why You Should Visit:
Very low-cost museum, but also very modern and beautiful. The outdoor gardens and sculptures are a great place to take pictures. There is also a small restaurant with limited indoor seating and some outdoor seating as well.

Opening Hours:
Tue–Sun: 9am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science

7) New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science (must see)

The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science was founded in 1986. It is a natural history and science museum with eight distinct permanent exhibits. These exhibits are referred to as "time halls."

The permanent exhibits at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History begin with the birth of the universe and end with the ice age. The exhibits are: Origins, Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Jurassic Age of Super Giants, New Mexico's Seacoast, Age of Volcanoes, Rise of the Recent - Evolving Grasslands, Cave Experience and New Mexico's Ice Age.

The museum also has a planetarium and an exhibit that covers space and space exploration. Visitors can also see fossils, native animals and native plantlike.

Along with permanent exhibits the New Mexico Museum of Natural History offers temporary exhibits that rotate on a varying basis. Previous temporary exhibits have included features on illicit drugs, the inventions of Leonardo Da Vinci and natural music.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-5pm
8
Candy Lady

8) Candy Lady

The Candy Lady is a sweet shop in Old Town Albuquerque. With a history that spans three decades, it has become a traditional stop for visitors in New Mexico.

Offerings at The Candy Lady include more than 20 flavors of fudge, licorice from around the world, hand made chocolates, hard candies, glazed and dip fruits, truffles and custom cakes.

Visitors love the candies that reflect the local atmosphere. The Candy Lady offers fudge made with red or green chile peppers, green chile pinon brittle, red chile bars, pinon coated toffee and chile pepper hard candy, among others.

The store also offers an assortment of "Breaking Bad" themed goods. Along with t-shirts and mugs, visitors can pick up a bag of "Breaking Bad" candy that promises not to draw the ire of the DEA.

The Candy Lady is open seven days per week. The shop is open from 11 AM through 5 PM on Mondays and Thursdays, from 11 AM to 6 PM on Fridays and Saturdays, and from noon to 5 PM on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays.
9
Patio Escondido Mall

9) Patio Escondido Mall

The Patio Escondido Mall is a series of shops and residential spaces in Old Town Albuquerque. The Albuquerque Museum is also located on the Patio Escondido grounds.

The buildings in which the mall is now located was once a sacred arts school called the Sagrada. It was founded by Sister Giotto Moots in order to promote artistic expression. The campus included an art gallery, dining hall, two residential studios and the Capilla de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe.

The Capilla de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe continues to be open to the public. In addition, there are several commercial merchants. Much of the rest of the Sagrada was redeveloped into private townhouses.

Most of the merchants within the Patio Escondido Mall focus on art and jewelry designed by local artists. There is also a shop that specializes in upcycling fabrics. One store celebrates Albuquerque-based "Breaking Bad," which is often said to be the best television show of all time.
10
Salvador Armijo House

10) Salvador Armijo House

The Salvador Armijo House is a historic hacienda in the Old Town neighborhood of Albuquerque. It was originally built in the 1840s by Salvador Armijo (1823–1879), a prosperous merchant who was the nephew of Governor Manuel Armijo. The house remained in the Armijo family for five generations and was remodeled or expanded several times, most notably in the 1870s and the early 1900s. Armijo's great-granddaughter Soledad C. Chacón, the future New Mexico Secretary of State, was a resident there in the early 1900s. During the mid-20th century, much of the building was converted into apartments.

In 1977, Armijo's great-great-granddaughter Frances Wilson sold the house and it was turned into a restaurant, named Maria Theresa after the well-known silver coin. The restaurant closed in 2004. In 2009, the building was purchased by the adjoining Hotel Albuquerque and turned into a party and reception venue. It was listed on the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties in 1975 and the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

The architecture of the house reflects various alterations made by its inhabitants in order to keep up with changing tastes and fashions. As originally constructed, the house consisted of 12 rooms arranged around a central courtyard, occupying a footprint of 100 by 70 feet (30 by 21 m). The walls are 32 inches (81 cm) thick and mostly constructed from adobe, though stone was used in some sections. The original house had very few windows and was entered via zaguanes or covered passageways.

The 1875 remodeling enclosed the zaguanes to form hallways and added new portales (porticoes) and windows with Territorial style wooden trim. In the early 1900s, most of the west side of the house was demolished and a new addition was built on the south side. New portales, pitched roofs with ornamented pediments, and a cast stone veneer (now removed) were also added to the exterior.
Sight description based on wikipedia

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