The Spanish first came to New Mexico in 1541. In 1598, the first Spanish colonial settlement, San Juan de los Caballeros, was founded in what is now northern New Mexico. The Spanish also established missions, some with beautiful churches and artwork, throughout the area. In 1706, settlers founded Albuquerque, named for the Spanish Duke de Alburquerque. For over 500 years, Hispanic culture has influenced how New Mexicans work, play and live.
Today, visitors can feel the vibrant Hispanic traditions across the state. From the food to the language and from the festivals to the arts and crafts, Hispanic culture is here for everyone to savor.
El Rancho de las Golondrinas (The Ranch of the Swallows) is a living history museum located on 200 acres in a rural farming valley just south of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The museum, dedicated to the heritage and culture of Spanish Colonial New Mexico, opened in 1972. Original colonial buildings on the site date from the early 18th century. In addition, historic buildings from other parts of northern New Mexico have been reconstructed at Las Golondrinas. Special festivals and theme weekends offer visitors an in-depth look into the celebrations, music, dance and many other aspects of life in the period when this part of the United States was ruled by Spain and Mexico.
El Camino Real is the oldest, and longest continuously used "highway," in the country, bringing European colonists to "New Spain" (New Mexico) beginning 22 years before the Mayflower landed. It is a designated National Historic Trail.
Technically any road under the direct jurisdiction of the Spanish crown and its viceroys was a "camino real." Examples of such roads ran between principal settlements throughout Spain and its colonies, including New Spain. After Mexico won its independence from Spain, roads in Mexico gave up the camino real distinction. The name was rarely used after that and was only revived in the American period in connection with the Mission Revival movement of the early 20th century.
Spanish Market, held annually in late July on the Santa Fe Plaza, showcases traditional Hispanic art forms and artists.
The traditional artforms featured each year at Spanish Market include the following:
Santos - depictions of religious figures in the forms of bultos (carvings in the round).
Retablos (paintings on wooden panels) and gesso and wood relief-carved panels.
Hide paintings - religious images painted on deer or elk hide
Straw appliqué - crosses, chests and boxes decorated with applied straw
Textiles - handwoven on looms using handspun yarns
Furniture - usually made from pine using mortise and tenon joints
Colcha - unique regional embroideries employing the colcha stitch
Tinwork - decorative and utilitarian objects of cut and punched tin
Ironwork - tools, fastenings, and household objects forged from iron
Precious metals - silver or gold jewelry, utilitarian and devotional objects
Pottery - hand sculpted bowls, pots, and other wares made from micaceous clay
Bonework - decorative items, anillos (rings) and tool handles carved from bones
Ramilletes - decorative paper garlands
Basketry - baskets handwoven from red and brown river willow
Spanish Market is organized and produced by the Spanish Colonial Arts Society, which supports Hispanic artists through educational programs, grants, and the production of Spanish Market in July and Winter Spanish Market in December. These two major exhibitions give visitors a rare opportunity to meet some of the best Hispanic artists working in the region today.The Society's collection of more than 3,500 art objects is housed at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art at 750 Camino Lejo (Museum Hill) in Santa Fe. The collections include Spanish colonial artforms covering four centuries and four continents.
National Hispanic Cultural Center
The National Hispanic Cultural Center presents and preserves Hispanic culture at the local, state, national and international levels. Its 16-acre campus is home to an art museum, performing arts complex, education center, history and literary arts building and several outdoor patios and plazuelas. Throughout the year visitors can enjoy a diverse mix of traditional and contemporary art, music, dance, theatre, book signings, lectures and family programming. The Center also offers a restaurant and gift shop.