Santa Fe, NM Part I: Tram Tour
Santa Fe, NM, is only about an hour's drive north of where we were staying in Albuquerque, so we decided to take a day trip. Santa Fe, which means "holy faith" in Spanish, is the capital of New Mexico.
We started off our visit to Santa Fe with a tram tour of the city. We have found these one to two-hour guided tours to be an excellent way to get a quick overview of a city we have never visited before, to learn some history, and to get a sense of where things are located. The tours usually cost under $20 a person (this one was $15).
There are several tour companies, and we chose Loretto Line Tours based on their online description as Santa Fe's oldest tour company. Our tour started at 10:30 AM from the La Fonda Hotel near the old town square. As with all early Spanish settlements there was a square, which is shown in the photo below.
Santa Fe was established in 1610 by the Spanish. It was the capital of Nuevo Mexico, a province of New Spain. Along the square is the Palace of the Governors, which was built in 1610, and which served as the seat of government in Nuevo Mexico for several hundred years.
The Palace is the oldest continuously occupied building in the United States. It is an adobe structure. As we learned last year in Taos, adobe is a mixture of mud, sand, and straw that is used to make bricks. After the bricks are dried in the sun, they are used for construction. The inside and outside of the adobe brick walls are then covered with a smooth coating of more adobe. The smooth covering is subject to cracking and weathering, and must be renewed every year. As with most old adobe buildings, the original walls of the Palace of Governors have been covered with stucco for easier maintenance. The building currently houses the New Mexico History Museum, but a new building for the museum adjacent to the Palace is scheduled to open on May 23, 2009.
The museum also sponsors a Native American artisans program. Jewelry, pottery, carvings, drums, leatherwork, and other handicrafts are sold by the artists on the porch of the Palace.
All artisans are screened to be sure they are making the crafts themselves by hand. There are no imports and no manufactured goods. The members of the program participate in a lottery every morning for a selling spot on the porch of the Palace. The crafts are expensive, but they are outstanding quality. They are all handmade in authentic Native American designs and by authentic methods.
The square in Sante Fe was also the terminus of the Santa Fe Trail. The Santa Fe Trail, which ran from Missouri to Santa Fe, was a trade route between the United States and Mexico starting in the early 1820s. Spanish colonial policy restricted trade prior to that time, but after Mexico won its independence in 1821, trade restrictions were relaxed. The trail served as an invasion route for the United States Army in 1846 during the Mexican-American War, and it also brought American settlers to New Mexico. The trail fell into disuse after the railroad reached Santa Fe in 1880. The photo below is a life-size sculpture depicting a wagon train traveling the Santa Fe trail.
When Spanish settlers came to northern Nuevo Mexico in the late 1500s,
there were already villages of Puebloans living in the area. Pueblo is the Spanish word for "village," and it became the name of both the people who lived in New Mexico and their adobe dwellings.
The Spanish, as well as the Anglo settlers who came later, adopted the adobe building style that Santa Fe is so famous for. We really like the adobe-style architecture with the smooth walls, rounded edges, and mellow tan colors. Some examples of adobe-style architecture that we passed on the tour were the New Mexico Museum of Art...
...the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum...
...and the Pink Adobe Restaurant.
Even the Loretto Inn is designed to look like a multi-level pueblo.
The tour travels up Canyon Road, which is the center of the art community in Santa Fe. In the 1950s, artists and gallery owners started buying up homes along Canyon Road and converting the homes to art galleries. The galleries, one of which is shown in the photo below, all have the well-known, Santa Fe pueblo style.
The tour stops at a group of galleries where we were given a chance to stretch our legs and look around for a few minutes. In the photo below, Paul is sitting in a sculpture garden beside a large rabbit.
Margery particularly liked the bronze sculptures of children outside another gallery. These sculptures sell for $3,000 to $5,000.
Probably the most impressive sculpture was an acrylic-painted bronze statue of an Indian princess by Dave McGary titled "Walks Among the Stars." The tour guide told us the price of this sculpture is $320,000. The detail of the beaded costume and fringe is amazing.
In the next photo, Margery is checking out the detail in the blanket the princess is carrying.
The next photos show some of the picturesque galleries along Canyon Road.
After the tram tour, we continued our visit to Santa Fe on foot. We'll tell you more in our next post.