Listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, the Santa Fe Plaza is a busy center of artistic commerce where centuries old buildings surround the park. Many of the buildings surrounding the park stand just as they did during colonial Spanish times. There are shops, restaurants, and hotels there are number of famous landmarks including The Palace of the Governors, St. Francis Cathedral, Loretto Chapel plus museums and the Lensic Theatre. The annual Spanish Market and the Santa Fe Indian Market are held around the Plaza. The small central park invites shoppers to relax under the ancient shade trees.

Palace of the Governors

Originally constructed in the early 1600’s as Spain’s seat of government, the Palace of the Governors is now the state’s history museum. It was designated a Registered National Historic Landmark in 1960 and an American Treasure in 1999. The Photo Archives contains an estimated 800,000 items including historic photographic prints and is an important collection includes material of regional and national significance, dating from approximately 1850 to the present, covering subject matter that focuses on the history and people of New Mexico and the expansion of the West.

105 West Palace Avenue
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2014
(505) 476-5100

Loretto Chapel

When the Loretto Chapel was completed in 1878, there was no way to access the choir loft twenty-two feet above. Carpenters concluded access to the loft would have to be via ladder as a staircase would interfere with the interior space of the small Chapel.

Local myth says the Sisters of the Chapel made a novena to St. Joseph. On the final day of prayer, a man appeared at the Chapel with a donkey and a toolbox looking for work. Months later, the elegant circular staircase was completed, and the carpenter disappeared without pay or thanks. The stairway’s carpenter, whoever he was, built a magnificent structure. The design was innovative for the time and some of the design considerations still perplex experts today. The staircase has two 360 degree turns and no visible means of support. Also, it is said that the staircase was built without nails—only wooden pegs.

207 Old Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe, NM 87501
(505) 982-0092

La Fonda Hotel

While Santa Fe has been captivating travelers for more than 400 years, La Fonda on the Plaza has been providing warm and friendly accommodations for almost as long. This historic, landmark hotel is just steps from the Plaza and sits quite literally at the terminus of the Santa Fe Trail. La Fonda is steeped in history. Records suggest that La Fonda on the Plaza sits on the oldest hotel corner in America. When Santa Fe was founded by the Spaniards in 1607, records show an inn – or fonda – was among the first businesses established at this location. By the time Captain William Becknell’s party forged their maiden commercial route across the plains from Missouri to Santa Fe in 1821, they happily found a comfortable inn on the Plaza awaiting them. Thus, the Santa Fe Trail was born.

Lensic Performing Arts Center

The historic Lensic Theater is a world class venue hosting lectures, music, dance, and theater performance from around the world. Built in 1931 as a movie and vaudeville palace, the richly exotic Spanish/Moorish style structure was comprehensively restored in 2001.

211 West San Francisco Street

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

In 1598, Franciscan Friars entered what is now New Mexico. These priests accompanied the Spanish colonists, who had migrated north from Mexico City. The City of Santa Fe was founded in 1610. That same year the first church was built on this site. The original adobe church was replaced in 1630 by a larger one, which was destroyed by the Pueblo Indian Revolt of 1680.

The expelled Spaniards returned in 1693, but were not able to rebuild the church until 1714. This new church was named in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, the Patron Saint of Santa Fe. The only part of this church still existing is the small adobe chapel dedicated to Our Lady La Conquistadora. Brought from Spain in 1625, the statue is the oldest representation of the Virgin Mary in the United States.

In 1850, Santa Fe received its first Bishop, Father John Baptiste Lamy of France. Judging the 1714 old adobe church as inadequate for the seat of the Archdiocese, Bishop Lamy ordered a new Romanesque church built, and brought French architects and Italian stonemasons to build his Cathedral.

Construction of the Cathedral began in 1869 and continued until 1887. The new Cathedral was built around the former adobe church and, when the new walls were complete, the old church was torn down and removed through the front door. The stained glass windows in the lower bay are from France and depict the twelve apostles. Seven archbishops, including Lamy, are buried in the sanctuary.

Dedicated in 1887, the Cathedral’s spires were never completed due to lack of funds. During the most recent structural renewal in 1967, the Cathedral was strengthened, new sacristies were added, and a Blessed Sacrament Chapel was built. In 1987, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the stone church, a monumental altar screen depicting famous saints of North and South America was installed.

The Cathedral was elevated to a Basilica by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005. Basilica means a church of particular importance in Rome and abroad. Churches are honored by the Holy Father because of their importance in the history of spreading Catholicism.

213 Cathedral Place
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2028
(505) 982-5619

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

This modern facility, located just off the Plaza, contains the world’s largest
collection of O’Keeffe’s art and is the first museum dedicated to the work of a single woman artist of international stature.

217 Johnson St.
Santa Fe, NM 87501