Archiscape Blog

Traveling Architect: Santa Fe

Posted on September 28, 2011 by Karin • Filed under:

Oh, the colors, the smells and the sounds of Santa Fe! We have visited here a few times now, and every time, there are new discoveries. The landscapes are varied, and explorations to new areas are always rewarded with yet another beautiful view. The city is as old in its design as the art that that fills the galleries is new. The weekly festivals in the summer always bring together people from all over the country and the world, to celebrate local arts and crafts, Spanish Art or new local businesses. Even the opera, arguably the most serious open-air opera on the planet, is a draw for travelers near and far.


At its founding, Santa Fe was named “La Villa Real de la Santa Fé de San Francisco de Asís”. If Saint Francis could have experienced these landscapes, I am sure he would have been astounded. Far from the tidy agricultural hills of his native Umbria, these vistas are wide, with an ethereal sky hovering over rugged mountainscapes or lush valleys.


The Plaza is the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the United States, with the village of Ogapoge being settled around 900 CE, a group of Pueblo Indian villages being known as the City of Sante Fe being settled around 1050 to 1150, and the founding of the capital of New Mexico in 1608. Wandering the streets, we couldn’t help but think about the early settlers here, organizing the new city around a plaza which would have encouraged public gathering, for events, trading and everyday meeting. At some point, covered walkways, or portals, became part of the building language. These provided protection from the harsh sun and the usually short but heavy rains that come in the wet season. The portals around the plaza nowadays are often filled will vendors selling handmade jewelry and wares.


Many visitors come to Santa Fe for the art galleries. We enjoyed these immensely, but with small children, we enjoyed the outdoor permanent art even more. There are examples all over the city of public art, in different styles and made with various materials, against the backdrop of adobe buildings.

In our earlier blog about New Mexico, we talked about other landscapes as well as the Anasazi and Pueblo settlements that first dotted the landscape. Click here for more…

Read more about the breathtaking Santa Fe open-air opera house here, …

… and visit (virtually) the Hotel Santa Fe, run by the Picuris Pueblo here.


  • “We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”
  •  Jawaharal Nehru


A bientôt,