Albuquerque Old Town Walk, Albuquerque

Albuquerque Old Town Walk (Self Guided), Albuquerque

The history of human habitation on the site of present-day Albuquerque, New Mexico reaches back 12,000 years. Long before the “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul” TV series made a splash for Albuquerque worldwide, the Paleo-Indians inhabited the region. By the time European settlers had arrived in the 1500s, approximately 20 indigenous tribes lined the 60-mile stretch of the Rio Grande River.

The city of Albuquerque was founded in 1706 and was named in honor of Francisco Fernández de la Cueva, the 10th Duke of Alburquerque and Viceroy of New Spain.

The heart of Albuquerque's historical legacy lies in Old Town, characterized by a central plaza that has witnessed centuries of change and development. Surrounding the square, you'll find a treasure trove of historic landmarks, including the venerable San Felipe de Neri Church built in 1793.

Albuquerque served as a vital outpost along the El Camino Real road, connecting Mexico City to New Spain's northern territories, that was in use from 1598 up until 1882. After 1821, Mexico had a military presence in the region till 1846, when the New Mexico Territory became a part of the United States.

During the Civil War, Albuquerque saw the Battle of Albuquerque, a brief conflict that led to the Confederate troops' departure. The arrival of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad in 1880 spurred the growth of New Albuquerque (New Town) to the east, while Old Town retained its unique charm. In 1891, Albuquerque officially became a city.

In 1926, Route 66 brought a new wave of travelers to Albuquerque, spawning motels, restaurants, and gift shops. Over the years, Old Town evolved into a popular tourist destination, with adobe houses transformed into stores, restaurants, and galleries. In 2006, Albuquerque celebrated its tricentennial.

Visitors to Albuquerque can still see the vestiges of the early days of European colonization. History buffs will certainly appreciate the Albuquerque Museum and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, offering a deep dive into the region's yesteryear and natural wonders.

We, hereby, invite you to this self-guided journey through the fascinating origins and noteworthy sites of Albuquerque Old Town. So, come with us and let the appeal of this charming district captivate your senses!
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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
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.
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 Saint 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

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Salvador Armijo House

10) Salvador Armijo House

The historic Salvador Armijo House, located in Albuquerque's Old Town neighborhood, was built in the 1840s by Salvador Armijo, a prosperous merchant and nephew of Governor Manuel Armijo. The house, which remained in the Armijo family for five generations, underwent several remodelings and expansions, notably in the 1870s and early 1900s. Soledad C. Chacón, Armijo's great-granddaughter and future New Mexico Secretary of State, resided in the house during the early 1900s. In the mid-20th century, parts of the house were converted into apartments.

Frances Wilson, Armijo's great-great-granddaughter, sold the house in 1977, and it became the Maria Theresa restaurant until its closure in 2004. The adjacent Hotel Albuquerque purchased the building in 2009 and transformed it into a venue for parties and receptions. The house is listed on both the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties and the National Register of Historic Places.

The house's architecture reflects the alterations made by its inhabitants to keep up with changing tastes and fashions. Originally, it featured 12 rooms surrounding a central courtyard, occupying a footprint of 100 by 70 feet (30 by 21 meters), with walls 32 inches (81 cm) thick, mostly made of adobe and some sections of stone. The original house had few windows and was entered through covered passageways called zaguanes.

The 1875 remodeling enclosed the zaguanes to create hallways and added new portales and windows with Territorial-style wooden trim. In the early 1900s, the west side of the house was demolished, and a new addition was constructed on the south side, featuring new portales, pitched roofs with ornamented pediments, and a cast stone veneer that has since been removed.

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