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Santa Fe Introduction Walk (Self Guided), Santa Fe

With the Sangre de Cristo mountains at the backdrop, Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico, has long been a place attracting creative minds. The latter is obvious in the signature local Pueblo-style architecture. Founded by the Spanish back in the early 17th century, the city has traditional Plaza at its center surrounded by crooked streets and plethora of historic buildings, such as the Palace of the Governors, now home to the state history museum. To explore this and other landmarks of Santa Fe, follow this orientation walk.
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Santa Fe Introduction Walk Map

Guide Name: Santa Fe Introduction Walk
Guide Location: USA » Santa Fe (See other walking tours in Santa Fe)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
Author: sabrina
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Santa Fe Plaza
  • Palace of the Governors
  • Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
  • Santuario de Guadalupe
  • New Mexico State Capitol
  • San Miguel Mission (Oldest Church in the US)
  • Oldest House Museum (De Vargas Street House)
  • Loretto Chapel
  • Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
  • Cross of the Martyrs
Santa Fe Plaza

1) Santa Fe Plaza (must see)

Mirroring the traditional Spanish-American colonial cities, the Santa Fe Plaza is a National Historic Landmark. The plaza, or "city-square", was originally, and is still to this day, the center gathering place in town, or as many know it "the heart of Santa Fe." The landmark has since grown into a playground for many tourists interested in Spanish, Native American, and Mexican cultures, including music, design, jewelry, art and dance. Known simply as the "Plaza," it is home to annual events including Fiestas de Santa Fe, the Spanish Market, the Santa Fe Bandstand, and the Santa Fe Indian Market.

Encompassed in the general Plaza area are historic monuments, restaurants, businesses and art galleries, including the Palace of the Governors (the oldest public building in the U.S.), the New Mexico Museum of Art, Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, and the Loretto Chapel.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Palace of the Governors

2) Palace of the Governors (must see)

The Palace of the Governors (1610) is an adobe structure located on Palace Avenue. The Palace of the Governors is the oldest continuously occupied public building in the United States.

The Palace originally served as the seat of government of the Spanish colony of Nuevo Mexico, which at one time comprised the present-day states of Texas, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, California, and New Mexico. After the Mexican War of Independence, the Mexican province of Santa Fe de Nuevo México was administered from the Palace of the Governors. When New Mexico was annexed as a U.S. territory, the Palace became New Mexico's first territorial capitol.

It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960.

Operating hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 10 am – 5 pm except in the summer (Memorial Day through Labor Day), when the Palace is open all week long. Fridays: til 8 pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

3) Georgia O'Keeffe Museum (must see)

The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum is dedicated to the work of the American artist Georgia O’Keeffe and to the study and interpretation of American Modernism. It opened on 17 July 1997, eleven years after the artist's death, and is located at 217 Johnson Street in Santa Fe. The private, non-profit Museum was founded in November 1995 by philanthropists Anne and John Marion, part-time residents of Santa Fe. The first director, Peter H. Hassrick, resigned immediately after the museum opening, leaving Jay Cantor temporaryily charge, as tens of thousands of visitors arrived to view the small edifice and its contents. George King was director from 1998 to 2009.

Initially, the collection was made of 140 O'Keeffe paintings, watercolors, pastels and sculpture, but now its holdings of O'Keeffe works number over 1,000, representing the largest repository of work by O'Keeffe available to the public in a single institution. Subjects range from the artist's innovative abstractions, iconic large-format flower, skull, and landscape paintings, in addition to paintings of architectural forms and rocks, shells, and trees, dating between 1902 and 1984. It is the largest permanent collection of O'Keeffe's work in the world.

Opening hours: Monday- Sunday: 10 am -5 pm; Friday: 10 am – 7 pm.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Santuario de Guadalupe

4) Santuario de Guadalupe

Santuario de Guadalupe, built at the end of the 18th century, is located in the city center. It contains a history and art museum exhibiting Italian Renaissance and Mexican Baroque paintings, as well as artifacts of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.
New Mexico State Capitol

5) New Mexico State Capitol (must see)

The New Mexico State Capitol, located in Santa Fe, is the house of government of the U.S. state of New Mexico. It is the only round state capitol in the United States, and is known informally as "the Roundhouse".

The building was designed to resemble the Zia Sun Symbol when viewed from above. Architecturally, the Capitol is a blend of New Mexico Territorial Revival style and neoclassical influences. Above each entrance is a stone carving of the State Seal of New Mexico. The building has four levels, one of which is below ground.Dedicated on December 8, 1966, the building was designed by W.C. Kruger and constructed by Robert E. McKee. Its extensive marble-work was installed by the New Mexico Marble and Tile Company. The first floor contains the semicircular House and Senate chambers, which are not accessible to the public. The second story, which is the ground floor, includes galleries where visitors can view the House and Senate chambers.

The House gallery seats 281 people and is located on the south side of the building. The Senate gallery, which seats 206 people, is on the north side of the building. The two upper floors are mainly offices, with legislative committee offices on the third floor and the offices of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and legislative Council Service on the fourth floor. The Rotunda is finished with Travertine marble native to New Mexico and inlaid with a turquoise and brass mosaic of the Great Seal of New Mexico. A renovation in 1992 included expansion of the committee roomsmechanical and electrical improvements and greater accessibility for handicapped people. The building was rededicated on December 4, 1992.
Sight description based on wikipedia
San Miguel Mission (Oldest Church in the US)

6) San Miguel Mission (Oldest Church in the US) (must see)

San Miguel Mission, also known as San Miguel Chapel, is a Spanish colonial mission church in Santa Fe. Built between approximately 1610 and 1626, it is the oldest church in the United States.

The church was damaged during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 but was rebuilt in 1710 following the Spanish reconquest and served for a time as a chapel for the Spanish soldiers. The wooden reredos, which includes a wooden statue of Saint Michael dating back to at least 1709, was added in 1798. Though the church has been repaired and rebuilt numerous times over the years, its original adobe walls are still largely intact despite having been hidden by later additions. The church is a contributing property in the Barrio De Analco Historic District, which is a U.S. National Historic Landmark.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Oldest House Museum (De Vargas Street House)

7) Oldest House Museum (De Vargas Street House) (must see)

The De Vargas Street House, often referred to as the Oldest House, is a historic building in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is often said to be one of the oldest buildings in America. The original date of construction is unknown but the majority of t.he building is believed to date to the Spanish colonial period (post-1610). One archaeological study also concluded that some sections of the walls are characteristic of Pueblo architecture and may be pre-Spanish in origin. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The De Vargas Street House is a two-story adobe building; the first floor is original and the second floor was reconstructed based on the original in the 1920s. Most of the house is constructed from adobe brick, which was a Spanish colonial technology, while a few lower wall sections are puddled adobe characteristic of pre-Spanish pueblo buildings. The first-floor ceiling is original and includes vigas dating to the mid-18th century. The first floor interior has two Spanish colonial-style rooms with corner fireplaces, while the second floor is "a dummy" and not open to visitors.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Loretto Chapel

8) Loretto Chapel (must see)

The Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe is a former Roman Catholic church that is now used as a museum and wedding chapel. It is known for its unusual helix shaped spiral staircase (the "Miraculous Stair"), that may have been created by French carpenter Francois-Jean "Frenchy" Rochas, although the Sisters of Loretto credit St. Joseph with its constructionIn 1872 Jean-Baptiste Lamy, the Bishop of the Santa Fe Archdiocese, commissioned the building of a convent chapel to be named Our Lady of Light Chapel, which would be in the care of the Sisters of Loretto.

The chapel was designed by French architect Antoine Mouly in the Gothic Revival style, complete with spires, buttresses, and stained glass windows imported from France. Although it was built on a much smaller scale, the chapel bears an obvious resemblance to the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. The architect died suddenly and it was only after much of the chapel was constructed that the builders realized it was lacking any type of stairway to the choir loft. Due to the chapel's small size, a standard staircase would have been too large. Historians have also noted that earlier churches of the period had ladders rather than stairs to the choir loft, but the Sisters did not feel comfortable with that prospect because of the long habits that they wore. The Loretto Chapel is now a museum and no longer functions as a church, but weddings may be arranged, including a highlight of the couple being photographed while standing on the spiral staircase. There is an entrance fee for the chapel. It is owned by a private company.

Opening hours: Monday – Saturday: 9 am – 4:30 pm; Sunday: 10:30 am – 5 pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

9) Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi (must see)

The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi is a Roman Catholic cathedral in downtown Santa Fe.The cathedral was built by Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy between 1869 and 1886 on the site of an older adobe church, La Parroquia. The new cathedral was built around La Parroquia, which was dismantled once construction was complete. A small chapel on the north side of the cathedral is all that remains of the old church.

Influenced by the French-born Archbishop Lamy, Saint Francis Cathedral was designed in the Romanesque Revival style. As such, the cathedral features characteristic round arches separated by Corinthian columns and truncated square towers. The large rose window in front and those of the Twelve Apostles in the lateral nave windows were imported from Clermont-Ferrand in France. The towers were originally planned to be topped with dramatic 160-foot steeples, but due to lack of funds these were never built. The cathedral was built from yellow limestone blocks quarried near the present site of Lamy. A 2005 addition to the upper facade of the cathedral is a small, round window featuring the dove of the Holy Spirit. It is a stained glass replica of the translucent alabaster window designed in the 17th Century by Italian Baroque artist Bernini that can be seen in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. The Cathedral of Saint Francis of Assisi was officially elevated to a basilica by Pope Benedict XVI on October 4, 2005, becoming the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi.

Opening hours: Monday – Friday; 8:30 am - 5 pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Cross of the Martyrs

10) Cross of the Martyrs

The monument of the Cross of the Martyrs was built to honor the Franciscan friars who died during the Pueblo Revolt in 1680. The hill on which the monument is located offers a spectacular view of the city. On the walk up the hill are plaques detailing the history of this event.

Walking Tours in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Create Your Own Walk in Santa Fe

Create Your Own Walk in Santa Fe

Creating your own self-guided walk in Santa Fe is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Canyon Road Art and Architecture Tour

Canyon Road Art and Architecture Tour

Whether your interest lies in art, architecture, history or food, you'll be able to satisfy it fully on Canyon Road. Situated just east of the Santa Fe Plaza, Canyon Road is home of Santa Fe's thriving art market selling artwork from both famed and indie artists. There are over 100 art galleries dotted along the one-mile street, making it the third largest art market in the country.

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 Km or 0.6 Miles
Historical Churches

Historical Churches

Santa Fe has many beautiful churches, some of them dating back to the foundation of the city. Take this self-guided tour to discover the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s artifacts, see the oldest church in the country and enjoy collections of Italian Renaissance and Mexican Baroque paintings.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles