Santa Fe, part I

In today’s Travel Explorations we visit Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Santa Fe and the surrounding area is a feast for the senses.  History, art, music and nature come together in delightful combination.

Santa Fe is a high-altitude city, sitting at 7,000 feet above sea level with nearby mountains reaching above 12,000 feet. It is New Mexico’s capital, and the capitol building is called the Roundhouse. Completed in 1966 and named for its unique circular shape, the building was designed to resemble the state’s Zia sun symbol when viewed from the sky. Although seemingly one of the few newer structures in the city, it fits in beautifully with the carefully crafted historic adobe look of the area.

For 400 years, Santa Fe has built a fascinating culture, although the first nomadic native peoples were in the area in 10,000 BC.  In the early 20th century, the city built on its history by adopting the Pueblo Revival style, requiring adobe or similar looking structures. The result is a charming, cohesive, attractive and authentic community. The buildings are low and blend in with their high-desert surroundings.

While Santa Fe celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2010, New Mexico will celebrate just its 100th year as a state in 2012.

Santa Fe’s center is the downtown Plaza, which has served for four centuries as a town square. On the Plaza is the Palace of the Governors, the oldest continuously occupied public building in the United States.

A short walk away is the 130-year-old Loretto Chapel, with its miraculous spiral staircase with seemingly no means of support. The stately St. Francis Cathedral was built in the late 1800s.

Another hallmark structure is the New Mexico Museum of Art dating from the early 20th century.  Built in the Spanish Pueblo Revival architectural style around a refreshing courtyard, the museum cleverly promotes “art of the state.”

A number of historic hotels are in the heart of the city, such as the Hotel St. Francis, formerly the Palace and De Vargas Hotel listed on the National Register of Historic Places, portions of which date from the late 1800s.  La Posada, a hotel dating from the 1930s, is a charming structure. If you don’t stay there, take time to have lunch in the pleasant courtyard.

For a more economical yet excellent accommodation, consider staying 20 minutes outside of Santa Fe at one of the new casino hotels such as the Santa Clarin.

The town of Las Vegas, New Mexico, has a Theodore Roosevelt connection.  Many of TR’s famous Rough Riders regiment came from New Mexico.  In 1899, the first Rough Rider Reunion was held in Las Vegas, New Mexico, with Teddy Roosevelt in attendance.  A museum there has a large collection of Rough Rider memorabilia.

A roundtrip airline ticket from the Dakotas to Mexico from the Dakotas costs about $500 at this time.  A special rate is available out of Minneapolis for travel through February for just over $300.  Travelers should keep in mind that if their travel agent books a package with air combined with hotel and/or car rental, the air price may be reduced.

Katherine Satrom


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