The Oldest House
Image via Flickr by pdvos
This aptly named attraction at 215 E. de Vargas St. is one of the oldest houses in the United States, dating to the 1600s. While the house itself is small, its historic impact is not. Its foundation was formed by Tano-speaking Native Americans in the 1200s, and a permanent pueblo was built sometime around 1608. At the gift shop, you can find Native American jewelry and artwork. Plan for about one hour for touring and browsing the gift shop.
San Miguel Chapel
Only two blocks away from The Oldest House is San Miguel Chapel, the oldest church in the United States, dating back to around 1610. The chapel stood independently for decades but sustained heavy damage during the Pueblo Revolt when indigenous Pueblos rose up to drive out Spanish colonists.
Although the chapel has seen its share of renovations, the structure exemplifies traditional pueblo craftsmanship with many of its original walls. Plan for about one hour here to tour the church and explore the bell tower.
Santa Fe Plaza
Since 1610, this plaza has been the central hub of Santa Fe. The plaza holds historical significance; it was originally a stronghold with walls surrounding it. It has also served as an important focal point on the Santa Fe Trail, a trade route that existed between New Mexico and St. Louis, Missouri, in the 1820s.
Today, the plaza attracts visitors with its shops, restaurants, and history lessons. In addition to the plaza itself, many other historic landmarks are near this location. Staying at one of the Santa Fe hotels close to the city’s plaza can help you experience as much of the city as possible. Between eating at the restaurants and visiting all of the shops, plan to spend at least one to two hours here.
Cross of the Martyrs
Image via Flickr by Cocoabiscuit
Half a mile away from the Santa Fe Plaza and up a short hiking trail, you can find the Cross of the Martyrs. On your way up the steep trail, plaques detail Santa Fe’s history and the significance of the cross. This historical landmark is a tribute to 21 priests killed in Santa Fe during the Pueblo Revolt. From here, you also have a view of the city itself as well as the surrounding mountains. Plan for about one hour for hiking, reading the plaques, and witnessing the cross and view at the top.
You can explore Santa Fe’s roots through all of the architecture, landmarks, and tributes mentioned, but also make sure to do your own research. The attractions above are only a glimpse into a few of many historical elements that you can find throughout Santa Fe.