From Pueblo Indians to Spanish soldiers and Franciscan missionaries, Santa Fe was first claimed the "Kingdom of New Mexico" by conquistador Don Francisco Vasques de Coronado in 1540. The capital of New Mexico, it is renowned as a creative hotbed and for its Pueblo-style architecture. There are quaint crooked streets leading out from its traditional plaza sitting in the heart of the city. Sitting on the southwestern slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains that wear a snow-capped crown, Santa Fe is on a tributary of the Rio Grande at an elevation of 7000 ft above sea level. Its culture is a woven blanket of Native American, Spanish/Mexican and Anglo-American influences. Often referred to as the "City Different" in the "Land of Enchantment" as the State is known.
The history and architecture buffs will be astounded at the sights in this vibrant city. It is where you will find the oldest church and the oldest house in the United States. The landmarks to meander through include the Palace of Governors that now houses the New Mexico History Museum, picturesque streets of low adobe houses and stunning Spanish colonial churches. In a corner of the Plaza you will find the elegant La Fonda Hotel that was the terminus for several old trade routes. If by some chance you can afford to stay here, you may get to put your head on a pillow where the likes of John F Kennedy, Errol Flynn and Kit Carson have slept. If you take to the forest clad mountains surrounding the town there are a number of Native American pueblos that are still occupied. Wander down Canyon Road to the small community of Pecos where you will find a plethora of artists' studios, craft workshops and galleries. You can pop into one of the many teahouses or cafes for a quick, or slow stop, to have caffeine hit or to satisfy the hunger pangs. If you really want to know what it was like in the 1700's then visit El Rancho de Las Golondrinas, a living history museum that was a former Spanish ranch.
Head to the lively plaza when you just want to soak up the atmosphere surrounding you and take time out at one of the restaurants or thrash the credit card in one of the shops. Every Saturday morning there is a farmer's market at the Santa Fe Railyard that shouldn't be missed for the drool factor alone.
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