If you like authentic Southwestern tastes, Santa Fe may be the destination for you. Exceeding the size of the legend of this city, it offers its appeal to the visitors. In fact, a population of less than 3,000 in a city probably does not guarantee the existence of a large airport; Albuquerque is the nearest. Santa Fe is one of the smallest state capitals in the country and is the fourth largest city in New Mexico.
The fame of Santa Fe comes from its stylish galleries, world-class dining and various shopping. Also known for its distinctive Adobe architecture, it represents a combination of Spanish and Native American culture. Adobe, produced from a combination of fibrous organic matter such as sand, clay, water and sticks or straw, is a sustainable natural building material for this arid, treeless region.
Santa Fe is a high desert town – a plateau at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains at an altitude of 1,000,000 feet. The city is full of sculptures from nearly 400 years of Spanish and Mexican rule.
Santa Fe’s Plaza, now a grassy park, has been the city’s political and social ally since it was built in the early 17th century. In its early days, Spanish officials surrounded it with houses and barracks. The Palace of Governors, built shortly after the plaza’s founding, stands to the north and is the oldest continuously occupied building in the United States. The P Palace was first the seat of the New Spanish colonial government and then served as the home of Mexicans and later American Territorial Governors. Over the years, the plaza has come under scrutiny for gun battles, political rallies, public markets and other activities.
One style applied to city planning was the radiation grid of central plaza streets. It sounds great in the beginning, but the end result is a puzzle of narrow roads and alleys. Although the result has disappointed motorists, the proliferation of galleries, shops and restaurants has made the area a delight to tourists.
The Plaza is a great place to start your Santa Fe trip. The Governors’ aforementioned palace is worth a visit, followed by the Museum of Fine Arts across the street, a great example of Pueblo Renaissance architecture, and a prototype of Santa Fe’s Adobe style built in 1917. Some of these famous people include Ansel Adams, Georgia O’Keefe and Elias Rivera.
The nearby Georgia O’Keefe Museum, named after New Mexico’s best-known painter, is one of the most visited art attractions in Santa Fe. Some canvases are world famous, such as Abstraction White and Crimson Wade. The new Awakening Museum, just below Johnson Street, is home to the French-born Jean-Claude Gaggi. The nearly 6,000-square-foot mahogany panel, which basically covers the interior of a gymnasium, glimpses with vivid, colorful images of Gogi, Christ of Passion, Crisis of the State and Release of the Book of the Reporting.
On the Santa Fe vacation we rarely spread out the places and things to see. The newly opened New Mexico History Museum has 96,000 square feet of interactive exhibition space and has been praised for its creativity. Other notable options include the Spanish Colon Museum of Colonial Art or Native American Art, the Rilliard District and the Contemporary Art Gallery, and the Santa Fe Farmers Market. In the evening, you can catch a show at the Lensic Performing Arts Center.