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Santa Fe - Orientation

Getting Around, Basic Info,...

Santa Fe is New Mexico's capital city and a tourist destination with several distinct districts. It is the oldest continual capitol in the United States and a living icon of history. Take a minute to gain an orientation of the most rewarding and accessible districts, attractions and events within Santa Fe.

The Plaza

Center of tourist and popular culture in Santa Fe, The Plaza is home to the Place of the Governors, the Cathedral Basilica of St Francis of Assisi, the Loretto Chapel with its famous spiral staircase, the New Mexico Museum of Art, the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum and the History Museum.

On a regular basis the plaza is filled with music from surrounding restaurants, sometimes playing to the plaza walkers more than the dining patrons. The streets become an occasional parade for locals' motorcycle projects and classic cars, all resembling a spontaneous street fair.

Museum Hill

Museum Hill is both an area of Santa Fe and an organization of four distinguished museums. These museums' collections focus on local topics or broad topics with a local presence.

  • The Museum of Indian Arts & Culture features over 70,000 pieces of Native American culture from ancient to modern Southwest societies.
  • The Museum of International Folk Art is a collection of toys, textiles, household goods and religious art; all the things that go into creating the daily life of a culture. Visits to this museum will give you an unparalleled glimpse into how other societies construct and perceive themselves.
  • The The Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian is New Mexico's oldest private museum and features important works of Native American art from the American Southwest.
  • The The Museum of Spanish Colonial Art is Santa Fe's newest museum and features objects from the entire Spanish Colonial world.

Canyon Road

Canyon Road represents the highest density of galleries and third largest art market in the country. There is even a Chuck Jones gallery, displaying the works of one of the greatest and most recognizable animators of his era.

Events in Santa Fe

Residents and visitors alike have the opportunity every summer to take in the musical excellence of The Santa Fe Opera and The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. From late June to late August these companies perform, and as they do so amidst the inspiring backdrop of the Sangre de Christo mountains, the truly unique experience that is Santa Fe sinks in, and you do not want to leave.

The Santa Fe Opera began in 1957 and has become one of the world's leading opera festivals, with more than half of its patrons coming from outside New Mexico. They have performed more than 1,600 performances of more than 130 operas, with several world premiers and dozens of American premiers. The Santa Fe Opera Company performs in a stunning modern piece of architecture that simultaneously allows 360 degree views of the landscape while sacrificing none of the acoustic benefits of an indoor hall. Its slanted roof even serves to collect over 60,000 gallons of rainwater which is used to maintain the Opera facilities' landscaping.

The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival began in 1972 and performs in the St. Francis Auditorium at the restored Lensic Performing Arts Center and at Sacred Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Los Alamos. The Chamber has commissioned many pieces over the years, including some from Aaron Copeland, Ellen Taafe Zwilich and John Harbison. The 6-week season allows for 80 concerts with musicians invited from around the world playing in an intimate, rewarding setting.

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North CentralSanta Fe has a rich cultural history and used to be considered the capital for the Spanish "Kingdom of New Mexico". These days, visitors can enjoy the many museums, galleries and dining options available in this beautiful and historic city.
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