Chimayo is not Santa Fe.
Santa Fe glistens in the New Mexico sunshine. This exciting state capital is a beacon to travelers yearning to experience the history of the American Southwest.
The Spanish began settling this area in 1598. The city of Santa Fe de San Francisco de Assisi was established in 1608 and became the capital of this northern part of New Spain (in North America) in 1610.
An exciting city unto itself, Santa Fe showcases the oldest church in the United States, 250 art galleries representing local and international artists, art and history museums, energetic bars for evening socializing, cabaret and fine dining. The local Plaza frequently hosts local musicians who entertain passersby while hoping a few dollars get tossed into their guitar case. You’ll enjoy some darned good performances here. Basically free entertainment – but I always support the performing arts.
For travelers who want to explore the area, Santa Fe is the perfect pied a terre for excursions into historical North Central New Mexico.
For LGBT travelers, Santa Fe claims that their percentage of the population of same-sex couples is second to San Francisco.
Chimayo is not the first thing that comes to mind for most travelers to New Mexico. Yet, it does have its remarkable, historic, and unique attractions that deserve your attention.
First of all, El Santuario de Chimayo is one of the most visited churches in America. Some refer to it as the Lourdes of the United States. With religious ties to Guatemala, El Santuario is constructed on the site of “holy dirt”. Catholic worshipers making a pilgrimage to Chimayo will take “holy dirt” and spread it on their bodies while praying that its connection to Jesus will cure their maladies.
As in the southwestern French city, during the holy week Semana Santa (around Easter), tens of thousands of people visit Chimayo. The original (small) chapel was built in 1810, but the number of pilgrims visiting Chimayo soon exceeded the capacity of the original building. The current thick walled adobe structure was built in 1816 and is now a National Historic Landmark.
El Santuario de Chimayo receives about 300,000 visitors per year.
Immediately behind El Santuario sits the smaller Santo Niño de Atocha Chapel.