For over four centuries, New Mexico has been a cultural crossroads, a place where Spanish, Native American, Mexican and American influences have co-mingled to create a rich and unique society. Fortunately, New Mexico celebrates its long and colorful history with a diverse mix of museums, national monuments and other carefully preserved historical and cultural sites that are open to the public. From ancient cliff dwellings and the oldest continuously inhabited community in the U.S. to world renowned art museums and churches where miracles seem to happen, New Mexico’s history and culture are truly amazing.
Tucked away in the little town of Chimayo along the historic Turquoise Trail, the El Santuario de Chimayo is world renown as a place where miracles occur. The tiny chapel, circa 1856, is built on a site associated with a miracle of the crucifix of Our Lord of Esquipulas. A small room in the complex contains a pit of Holy Dirt that many believe possesses healing powers. A shrine just outside that room is lined with discarded crutches and numerous moving testimonials from people who claim they were cured after rubbing the Holy Dirt on themselves. An annual pilgrimage to El Santuario during Holy Week involves some 30,000 people from around the world. Some people walk from as far away as Albuquerque (about 90 miles away), taking up to a week of walking before they arrive at El Santuario de Chimayo.
Encompassing the oldest continuously occupied public building in the U.S., the New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors is a remarkable piece of living history. The sprawling, adobe-style palace was originally constructed in the early 17th century as Spain’s regional seat of government. It chronicles nearly 400 years of New Mexico history involving U.S., Spanish and Confederate States of America soldiers, Mexican and New Mexican territorial governors and Pueblo peoples. Included in the palace exhibits are fascinating viewing portals where significant archaeological finds were unearthed. Adjacent to the palace is a dazzling new history museum that opened in 2009 with three floors of displays about the legendary Santa Fe Trail and other eras of the state’s colorful history. Native Americans sell their handmade art and jewelry under the palace portal daily. These artisans must be members of New Mexico tribes and pueblos, and their work is certified for its authenticity.
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