In Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico, history is alive and thriving. The city’s rich cultural heritage and unique architecture creates a captivating backdrop for history enthusiasts and wanderers alike. Come explore these top 10 must-see historic places in Santa Fe to discover an enchanting and storied past.
#1 Santa Fe Plaza
Located in the heart of downtown is the Santa Fe Plaza. Established in 1610, this is the oldest public square in the United States. Surrounded by historic buildings, the Plaza has witnessed significant events throughout history and remains a vibrant gathering place. Explore the shops and galleries, choose from a variety of restaurants, and simply enjoy the spirited atmosphere.
#2 Palace of the Governors
Located on the northern side of the Plaza, the Palace of the Governors is an iconic adobe building. Built in the early 17th century, it served as the seat of government for Spanish, Mexican, and American governors. Today, it houses the New Mexico History Museum and showcases exhibits that reflect the region’s history.
#3 Loretto Chapel
A masterpiece of Gothic Revival architecture, the Loretto Chapel is famous for its miraculous staircase. Built in 1878 by an unknown carpenter, the spiral staircase appears to defy architectural logic as it has no visible means of support. This enchanting chapel, now a museum, continues to inspire visitors with its awe-inspiring beauty.
#4 San Miguel Mission
Considered the oldest church in the United States, the San Miguel Mission is a testament to the enduring faith of Santa Fe’s early settlers. Built around 1610, the adobe mission showcases a blend of Pueblo and Spanish architectural styles. Step inside to marvel at its rustic beauty and serene ambiance.
#5 New Mexico Museum of Art
The New Mexico Museum of Art is a cultural treasure that features New Mexico’s artistic heritage. You’ll discover more than 20,000 works of American and European art, including paintings, sculptures, prints, and photographs, as well as works by iconic artists like Georgia O’Keeffe. What’s more, the museum is one of the best examples of Pueblo Revival architecture, and the best representation of the combined Native American and Spanish colonial design style. The museum’s architecture has become known as “Santa Fe Style.” Plan your visit, and immerse yourself in the beauty and cultural significance of New Mexican art.
#6 Canyon Road
Embark on a journey through Santa Fe’s art history on Canyon Road. This historic street, lined with adobe buildings, is home to numerous art galleries, studios, and shops. Immerse yourself in the enthralling art scene as you explore traditional and contemporary artworks on a street dedicated to the finest art in the nation.
#7 The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
A symbol of Santa Fe’s religious heritage, The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is an impressive structure. Built in the late 19th century, the cathedral reflects stunning French-Romanesque architecture and features beautiful stained glass windows. Attend a mass or simply enjoy a moment of tranquility within its sacred walls.
#8 El Rancho de las Golondrinas
Travel back in time at El Rancho de las Golondrinas, a living history museum that vividly portrays life in early New Mexico. Explore the meticulously restored buildings, experience interactive demonstrations, and engage with costumed interpreters who bring the past to life. This immersive experience offers a glimpse into the region’s rural heritage and cultural traditions. Closed during the winter.
#9 Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian
Dedicated to showcasing the art and culture of Native Americans, the Wheelwright Museum is a must-visit for those interested in Native American history. It houses an impressive collection of jewelry, pottery, textiles, and contemporary artworks.
#10 Inn of the Turquoise Bear
We’d be remiss not to mention the historic significance of our rambling adobe estate – ranked #2 best historic accommodations in Santa Fe by Fodor’s! Once home to poet, translator, and essayist, Witter Bynner, who was renowned for his advocacy for human rights as well as his “Bynner Bashes,” The Bear now has the privilege to host a wide variety of travelers, from local to international. Our innkeeping staff aims to rekindle the comfort, creativity, and hospitality of Bynner and capture the spirit of Santa Fe.
Book your overnight stay in one of our unique guest rooms, and get ready to explore these top 10 historic places in Santa Fe. Like us, you will soon fall in love with this enchanting city.