Visiting Historic Churches in New Mexico
The Southwest is home to beautiful missions built by the Spanish Conquistadors between the late 1500’s through the founding of the United States in the late 1700’s.
New Mexico, in particular, has a number of missions established by Franciscan friars under the direction of the Sanish Empire.
The best place to begin a tour of Southwest Churches is in Taos, New Mexico. In the center of Taos, there is the San Francisco de Assisi Mission. This mission was built between 1772 and 1816. Georgia O’Keeffe described the church as “one of the most beautiful buildings left in the United States by the early Spaniards.” It is one of the most photographed and painted churches in the world and has been designated as a World Heritage church.
After leaving Taos, you should head southwest toward Chimayo. In this small northern New Mexico town, you will find the Santuario de Chimayo. This church is a National Historic Landmark and receives approximately 300,000 visitors per year. It is the most important Catholic pilgrimage center in the United States.
From Chimayo, you should continue South to Santa Fe. In Santa Fe, you will find a number of religious sites including The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis, the Loretto Chapel, and the Church of San Miguel.
The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis, elevated to a Basilica by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, is in the heart of Santa Fe. After viewing the Basilica, you can walk to the Loretto Chapel. In the Loretto chapel, you will find the Miraculous Staircase. Then you should walk a bit further to the Mission San Miguel which is the oldest church in the United States.
After leaving Santa Fe, you should head South to the San Felipe de Neri Church in Old Town Albuquerque. Old Town is an excellent example of the Spanish style of architecture and the Church is one of the oldest buildings in the City.
From Albuquerque, you should head West on I-40 to the San Estevan del Rey Mission on the Acoma Pueblo. This beautiful adobe mission sits atop a Mesa and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
From the Acoma Pueblo, you should continue to Zuni where there is the Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe in Zuni to see one of the earliest and best examples of Spanish Missions, dating from the 1600’s.
Please note that there are many more excellent examples of Missions from the Spanish Era. This list is merely a sampling of the wonderful churches that you can find in New Mexico.
Here is the three day tour that we recommend:
Visit Taos, Chimayo, and Santa Fe. Spending the night in Santa Fe.
Visit Albuquerque in the morning, then the Acoma Pueblo in the afternoon, spending the night at the El Rancho Hotel in Gallup.
Visit the Zuni Pueblo.
Here is the two day tour that we recommend:
Visit Taos, Chimayo and Santa Fe, spending the night in Santa Fe.
Visit the Acoma Pueblo in the morning and the Zuni Pueblo in the afternoon, spending the night in Gallup at the El Rancho Hotel.