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Spotlight: Santa Fe

Explore the compelling past of a centuries-old city

Some 13 years before the Mayflower nudged up against the shores of Plymouth Rock in 1620, the small township of Santa Fe was established in what is now New Mexico. More than 400 years later, this one-time seat of power for the 17th century Spanish Empire stands as the oldest capital city in North America, and the oldest city of European ancestry west of the Mississippi.

In fact, over the course of that 400-year history, the city has served as the capital for no less than four distinct political sovereigns: the Spanish Kingdom of New Mexico, the Mexican province of Nuevo Mejico, the American territory of New Mexico and (since 1912) for the state of New Mexico.

If this is your first time in Santa Fe, the first thing you’ll notice is how picturesque and replete with ornate architecture the city is. Since the early days of New Mexico’s statehood, the city has fought hard to preserve and promote its cultural heritage, resulting in a rich assortment of protected buildings and landmarks.

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Santa Fe Aesthetics

But architecture and artifacts aren’t the only ways to explore Santa Fe’s rich culture heritage and history. Arts enthusiasts will be in their element, as the city is home to more than 250 galleries showcasing everything from traditional pottery and sculptures to contemporary photography and paintings.

If you don’t know where to start, aim for Canyon Road in the city’s historic district. This easy-to-stroll half-mile stretch in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains has been attracting artists for centuries.

Closer to the center of town, don’t miss the Georgia O’Keefe Museum, where the single largest repository of the late artist’s works is displayed.

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Sunny Hikes

When it’s time to stretch your legs and get some fresh air, the surrounding foothills, forests and rocky mountain peaks provide a rich assortment of options. The Santa Fe National Forest lies just to the east, and the Rio Grande lies just to the west.

For More Information

Tourism Santa Fe
New Mexico Tourism Department