Established in 1610 by Governor Don Pedro de Peralta, Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in the U.S. at 407 years old. Downtown Santa Fe has numerous unique shopping opportunities, and boasts more than 250 galleries making it the third largest art market in the country.
The Palace of the Governors is the oldest continuously used building in the U.S. Built in 1610, it is both a National Historic Landmark and an American treasure. The Palace of the Governors completes one side of the Santa Fe Plaza, built in 1609, which has been the heart of the downtown area for more than 400 years.My boyfriend and I visited the downtown on three occasions: the first time was a short trip with his Oma when we first arrived in New Mexico. The second was also with his Oma to see the Canyon Road galleries.
The third was a day trip for just the two of us, where we explored the downtown, checked out the galleries and shops, took in the scenery and hunted for souvenirs.Here we are at the visitor centre in front of a vintage Ford Falcon in light blue. I had to share this photo because 1) the vintage car, and 2) we were well coordinated!
Just off of the Plaza is the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. It contrasts dramatically with the surrounding adobe structures – its stone façade, bell towers and stained glass windows it looks like it has been transported from the Old World in Europe.(Boyfriend for scale!)
Designed in 1886 by Archbishop Lamy, the cathedral was built on the site of two former churches, the first of which had been destroyed during the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. A statue of the Virgin Mary, now called La Conquistadora, was removed from the church during the revolt and returned to her place of honour in 1693. Today, she presides over a side chapel.One of my goals while in Santa Fe was to find some turquoise jewelry that really caught my eye. I was very successful at Wind River Trading Company, the largest Native American jewelry store in Santa Fe. It is famous for its selection and size – the store is one block long, and is located between the Plaza and the Cathedral.
I was also successful on finding other souvenirs. I visited many shops, but found success at The Original Trading Post and Sunwest on the Plaza. We were also fortunate enough to take in an art show put on by the Santa Fe Society of Artists where I found an art print for my Mom by Sondra Wampler.If you’re looking for art shows and galleries, Santa Fe is the place. The show I mentioned above is held on weekends from the end of April until mid-October.
Down the street from the Cathedral is the Loretto Chapel, the one with the famed staircase that was built without nails!
We wanted to see it for ourselves, but unfortunately the church was closed to the public for a special event. I think someone was getting married, because a couple of hours later, we could hear a bell tower chiming for a long period of time.
We loved the beauty and simplicity of walking around downtown Santa Fe. It was a very enjoyable day, especially when you have your best friend by your side ♡
If I could have spent more time here, I would have. There is so much to see and do!Another plus to Santa Fe is that you can see nature in pretty much all directions.
For example, if you look out to the east, you can see the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.If you travel just outside of the city, you will find 1.5 million acres of national forest, several national parks and monuments, as well as northern Native American pueblos and historic sites.We can see why Santa Fe’s motto is “The City Different” – it is a place unlike any other.
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