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Founded in 1610, as La Villa Real de la Santa Fé de San Francisco de Asís (“The Royal Town of the Holy Faith of St. Francis of Assisi”), Santa Fe was established as the capital of the local province of New Spain, and remained the capital after New Mexico became, first, a province of Mexico, following the Mexican War of Independence, and then, after the Mexican War, a territory and then state of the United States. The site was originally a Native American farming village, or “pueblo”, named Ogapoge. It was watered by the Santa Fe River. The Pueblo Revolt of 1680 drove the Spanish from the state, but Santa Fe was reconquered in 1692 by the conquistador Don Diego de Vargas.
The city began to take its modern form about the time that New Mexico was granted statehood, in 1912, with the invention of the “Santa Fe style”, which included the restoration and preservation of local architecture and a plan for the city’s development. This was followed by the creation of the Santa Fe Fiesta in 1919 and the Southwest Indian Fair, in 1922. The latter is now known as the Indian Market, and the city is now known as the “City Different”, with a building code centered on the Spanish Pueblo Revival style (or Spanish Territorial style). Examples of the architectural richness of the city are the Palace of the Governors, on the Plaza, the St. Francis Cathedral and the San Miguel Chapel.
Santa Fe is now a renown art and culture center and art market, with an abundance of galleries, museums, the Santa Fe Opera, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the National Dance Institute of New Mexico, the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, the Institute for Spanish Arts and more. An event of particular interest is the Santa Fe Fiesta, with the burning of Zozobra (or the “Old Man of Gloom”), a 50’ high papier-mache sculpture.
With a unique high desert climate and surrounded by both mountains and canyons, Santa Fe is also a locale well-suited to outdoor activities, with the Santa Fe Ski Area just 16 miles uphill from the city, hiking and bike trails, fishing, hunting and river rafting. Santa Fe sits at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, with the Rio Grande River just to the west, and the Jemez Mountains beyond. Bandelier National Monument is located on the flanks of the Jemez Mountains, featuring very well-preserved Indian cliff dwellings and spectacular scenery. Also located in the Jemez Mountains is the scientific center of Los Alamos, with its Museum of Science.
Also available from Santa Fe is the tourist and ski town of Taos, the Georgia O’Keefe home in Abiquiu, the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque and ceremonial dances at various Indian Pueblos located throughout the area (which also offer casinos).