Capital of New Mexico, in Santa Fe County, on the Santa Fe River, 65 km/40 mi west of Las Vegas; population (2000 est) 62,200. It is situated in the Rio Grande Valley, over 2,000 m/6,500 ft above sea level, on the western slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Santa Fe is the cultural and tourist capital of the southwest, home to many artists, theatre, and opera. Precision instruments, pottery, and American Indian jewellery and textiles are produced.
History Santa Fe is the second oldest US city, and the oldest capital in the USA. It was inhabited by a small number of Spanish settlers from 1607 and was founded on a prehistoric Tiwa pueblo site. However, it was truly settled later in 1610, by a party led by Don Pedro de Paralta, governor of New Mexico. It was evacuated in 1680 after a Pueblo Indian revolt, but was retaken in 1692. During the 18th century it was the headquarters of a large Spanish colonial frontier province. Santa Fe was capital of the Mexican province of New Mexico after the Mexicans took control from the Spanish in 1821 and was later a trading post on the 19th-century Santa Fe Trail. It was occupied by US troops under General Stephen Watts Kearny in 1846 before being ceded to the USA in 1848. It became the territorial capital in 1851. It expanded with the coming of the railway to nearby Albuquerque in 1880 and became state capital in 1912 on New Mexico's admission to the Union.
Historical remains include ancient Pueblo Indian artefacts, traditional Spanish colonial and Pueblo Indian-style architecture, and several collections of American Indian art and crafts.
Architecture The Palace of the Governors (1610), restored as a museum in 1914, is the oldest public building in the USA. It was designated an ‘American Treasure’ in 1999 and is one of 42 entries for Santa Fe on the national register of historic places. Religious foundations include the Chapel of San Miguel (1710); the Cathedral of St Francis (1851); and the San Miguel Mission, built around 1625 and the oldest church still in use in the USA. There are a number of pueblos near Santa Fe, including San Ildefonso Pueblo, home of the potter Maria Martinez; and Santa Clara Pueblo, site of the Puye Cliff Dwellings, containing 740 rooms.
Culture Santa Fe is an important arts centre, with many galleries. Museums include the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum (1962), with the National Collection of Contemporary Indian Art; the Museum of Fine Arts (1917); the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture (1987); the Museum of International Folk Art (1953); and the Wheelwright Museum of Navajo Art (1937). Other cultural activities include: the Santa Fe Fiesta, which has been held since 1769; The Santa Fe Indian Market, hosted annually since 1921; and the Santa Fe Opera (1957), which performs in an outdoor theatre in the mountains.
Santa Fe Trail Santa Fe represented the northern base of Spanish settlement in the Rio Grande Valley, and was closest to the advancing frontier of American settlement west of the Mississippi. After the Mexicans took control from the Spanish in 1821, US traders headed for Santa Fe to establish contact with the new market, creating the Santa Fe Trail across the plains; pioneered by William Becknell. Its route was later followed, for the most part, by the Santa Fe railway, although the line missed Santa Fe, and passed through Albuquerque instead.
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