Scenic USA - New Mexico

San Miguel Church

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San Miguel Church - Santa Fe, New Mexico

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Photography

   Once a haven for Native Americans, the area around Santa Fe was a marshy plain, fed by the cool waters of the Santa Fe River. Most likely a network of settlements grew along the fertile River Valley, with archeological evidence dating a large village to the 1200s. Descendants from these early tribes were some of the first people to witness the arrival of Spanish explorers. Although the Spanish tried their best to totally convert these Native tribes, the Pueblo Indian culture survives today, adding an interesting mix of Spanish and Native American architecture, cuisine, traditions and life styles.
   Recently celebrating its 400 year anniversary, Santa Fe is proud of its humble beginnings and extensive history. Some of the oldest buildings in America can be found in Santa Fe, including the Palace of the Governors (inset), the oldest Palace of the Governors house on Vargas Street, and the San Miguel Mission Church. Claiming to be the oldest church in America, the San Miguel Chapel was built between 1610 and 1625. Beautiful ornaments and paintings adorn the interior, along with a Spanish bell cast in 1356. Although damaged in the Pueblo Revolt in 1680, the thick adobe walls were not harmed. After the chapel was rebuilt in 1710, stone buttresses were added to strengthen the structure. One of the classic Spanish styled churches, San Miguel is part of a remarkable Santa Fe 17th century plaza that remains essentially intact.

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