Scenic USA - New Mexico

Taos Plaza

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Taos Plaza - Taos, New Mexico

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website

     Settled by Spanish colonists more than 300 years ago, Taos Plaza still retains its original shape and remains the heart of Taos. Built with defense in mind, the area's shop windows and doors faced into the open plaza and its small number of entrances could easily be barricaded.
     Today, during the summer months, residents and guests gather for live concerts, and sightseers enjoy browsing the shops and galleries that surround the Plaza. The large cross to the left, designed by local artist Ted Egri, was erected to honor of the many people of Taos who died in the Bataan Death March during World War II. To the right, dusted with a light snow, is a sculpture of Padre Martinez by Huberto Maestas of San Luis, Colorado. Honored in 2006 with this sculpture (inset), Padre Martinez played a huge role in both religious and political affairs of Taos. Father Antonio Jose Martinez - sculpture
     Father Antonio Jose Martinez, one of the most important figures of New Mexican history, moved with his family to Taos in 1804 when he was just a boy. Married in Santa Rosa at a young age, Martinez's wife died in child birth. Distraught, Martinez returned to Taos to live with his parents. There he decided upon the vocation of priest and journeyed to northern Mexico to study at the Tridentine seminary. His stay at the seminary coincided with a strong political movement of Mexican independence.
     The new Mexican government looked to replace Franciscan friars with secular priests. This was an opportune moment for a young priest like Martinez to serve in New Mexico. Always an outspoken voice on both religious and political affairs, Martinez also established several schools in the Taos area. Martinez purchased a printing press and had it moved to Taos. The first press in New Mexico, Martinez used it to print school books as well as religious and political tracts. During long periods of political turmoil in the region, many rumors and misconceptions were spread about Father Martinez. To this day, there is not a fair biography of this long serving man of the cloth.

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