Saturday, May 12, 2012

The City of Santa Fe, New Mexico: Enchanting!

I have a  new favorite city: Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Never could I have possibly imagined how beautifully spectacular this city is! 

Santa Fe Factoids:
  • The name "Santa Fe" means, literally, "Holy Faith" in Spanish
  • This city's elevation is 7,000 feet -- 1,500 feet higher than the "Mile High" city of Denver.
  • It is the oldest and the highest (in elevation) capitol city in the United States.
  • The city of Santa Fe was originally occupied by Pueblo Indians between 1050 to 1150.
  • Santa Fe is the oldest city in America - continually inhabited for more than 400 years.
  • America's oldest church and oldest house are in Santa Fe.
  • The World Health Organization lists Santa Fe in it's Top 10 Clean Air Cities on the Planet!
  • While Santa Fe is not part of the current Route 66, it was on the original Pre-1937 Route 66. 
We awoke this morning to bright sunshine and the 47 degree temperature rose quickly to the point of requiring the windows be opened!  Oh joy!

By mid-morning we were loaded into the car for a day trip around the old town of Santa Fe.

Our first destination was to satisfy our urgent need to refill our pantry with goodies from Trader Joe's.  We haven't been in one in months and we urgently needed a TJ "fix". 

On our way into Santa Fe we got to see two of the New Mexico Rail Runner Express Trains. Both were stopped, although I can't imagine why. I was glad to get a good photo nevertheless.

Rail Runner Express
The Rail Runner Express trains were a real bonus sighting for me as the Santa Fe Railway Station was on my list of things to see. I must confess, though, I was a bit disappointed at the station. We were unable to get out and look inside as there is no parking for visitors -- just passenger loading and unloading. 
Santa Fe Railway Station with a Rail Runner behind.
To insure we made the most of our time in town today, I've got Lady GaGa (our GPS) programed with all the sights on my "must see" list.   First to see: San Miguel Church, the oldest church building in all of the United States.  It did not disappoint.
The simple adobe San Miguel Church
San Miguel Church was built sometime between 1600 and 1646 to serve the Spanish poor. It is said that some parts of the original building date to 1100. 

San Miguel Church is about 8 feet above street level. 
This picture was taken on the front patio area of the church.
I was standing in the church doorway to take this picture.

Interior of San Miguel Church
In the front of the church, behind the rail, deep, glass enclosed openings display the original dirt floor.
Inside San Miguel Church, a bell sits to the right of the doorway. It is said to be the oldest bell in the USA, ca. 1356. It was a gift to the church in 1848.
San Jose Bell
Inscription: "San Jose ROGAD por nosotros 9 De 1356
(St Joseph, pray for us December 9, 1356)
San Miguel Church shares an alleyway here in the Barrio de Analco with a residence that is aptly dubbed the Oldest House, built around 1612 and is said to be the oldest home in America. 
I snapped the picture of the Oldest House while Wayne visited inside San Miguel Church. When he came out the sky in front of us looked threatening, to say the least. I snapped another picture just as we headed back to the car to wait out whatever was coming our way.
Some pretty scary weather seems to be moving in.

Wayne strolling the furkids.

We are parked in the Visitors Center parking lot just beyond this nice shady courtyard.

While I wanted to see New Mexico's Capitol Building, Wayne didn't have much interest in it, so I made a mad dash across the street for a peek while he stepped into the Visitors Center.
The New Mexico Capitol is referred to as the "Roundhouse" for the obvious reason. It's round.
It also did not make my list of "favorite" state capitols but it is nice.  

New Mexico's House of Representatives meets here.

New Mexico Senate Chamber

Several pieces of art were on display inside the Capitol.
This was my favorite. 
Our next stop would be the stately Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, built between 1869 and 1887 under the direction of Santa Fe's first Roman Catholic bishop, Jean-Baptiste Lamy of France. The building is a mix of adobe, French, Romanesque and modern architectural styles with stained glass from France and stone from the town of Lamy, south of Santa Fe.
Known as St. Francis Cathedral
Statue of Archbishop JB Lamy
1850 - 1888
Kateri Tekakwitha statue.
First Indian in North America to be made a Saint.
The double doors are heavy and beautifully ornate brass.
I don't have detail about the significance of the panels.

Jake was friendly and helpful, explaining the important things to see at St Francis Cathedral.
He relocated to Santa Fe in 2006 having never even visited here. That's brave.

St Francis is a Pilgrim Church
The church was elevated to a Minor Basilica by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005

A crypt below the sanctuary serves as the burial place for Archbishop J.B. Lamy and several other church officials.

The stained glass came from France.

This is a very special piece.  It's the Chapel of La Conquistadors (Our Lady of Peace)
This statue was brought to Santa Fe in 1625 and the chapel was rebuilt in 1714.

The Church approves honor being given to the relics that with reasonable probability can be considered authentic.
The artifact above is a relic of St Francis of Assisi, Born 1181 - Died 1226 - Italy - Relic: Bone 

I just thought these glowing candles were pretty enough to be photographed.

Two of the Crypts in the Cathedral

Looking back from the Sanctuary. 
I waited...they wouldn't move.  Yes, they knew I was taking a picture.
Notice the "look" the woman is giving me. 

In Honor of The Original Settlers of Santa Fe Buried Here
Yet another church awaited my visit today:  The 134 year-old Loretto Chapel. It's known for its miraculous staircase -- a spiral stairway with two 360 degree turns and no nails or screws -- just wooden pegs for support. The stairway was the subject of an "Unsolved Mysteries" episode on TV.
Loretto Chapel
Sadly, it's no longer a practicing church.
A $3 admittance fee is charged.  Aarrrg.

The new entry to Loretto Chapel has an unwelcoming "touristy" feel

The rear of Loretto Chapel
It's impossible not to be impressed by  the adobe styling and coloring of the buildings in Santa Fe. Everything seems to "match". I use the word "adobe" loosely here as I've read this is really a mixture of Pueblo and Pueblo influenced Spanish adobe styles.  The buildings are finished with the shaping of a mud-based substance onto bricks. The building are "low" here too.  Maybe because the roofs are flat -- I'm not sure.    Anyway, the following pictures are just some of the really nice buildings we saw today....
Wayne is standing outside St Francis Cathedral in this picture.

Just another art gallery but photo worthy.
Retail shops

More retail shops.  All seem tastefully done, though.

That's the rear of Loretto Chapel on the far left.

Peppers drying outside.

Art Museum and St Francis Cathedral

Downtown Santa Fe intersection

Another downtown Santa Fe street with mountains in the background.

This road through Santa Fe was part of Route 66 before 1937
But not now.

Wood is scarce here.  Fences are made with wood from the skinny, small mesquite trees.

This old downtown area of Santa Fe might seem a bit touristy to some, but I loved it.  The wares being sold in the shops on along the streets were colorful and fascinating.  I wished the day had been a little longer...

The Palace of Governors complex was another site we passed but didn't stop to see or get a photograph as we couldn't find a place to park.  One last stop in Santa Fe today would be to take another pee-pee break for Lexie and Ozzie.  The Federal Courthouse provided the amenities necessary: concrete sidewalk and grass.
US Courthouse in Santa Fe

Ozzie found a place that needed to be "watered" so he helped out.

This monument in front of the Court House honors Kit Carson. Died May 23, 1868 at age 59.
I'm not a big fan of Kit Carson since I learned how he drove the Indians to their final fate and incarceration.

We returned to Santa Fe Skies Campground by 5 p.m. just about the same time the wind and rain set in. The dreadful, daily winds again caused us to pull the slides in for the second night.  I read that spring is the least desirable time of year to visit Santa Fe because of the wind...

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