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Coronado Historic Site
485 Kuana Road Bernalillo, NM 87501

He was looking for the fabled Seven Cities of Gold, but Francisco Vásquez de Coronado instead "discovered" the rich farmland of the Rio Grande valley and a prosperous Native people who enjoyed life as Coronado could only dream … and temporarily dominate. Coronado's expedition of 300 soldiers and 800 Indian allies from New Spain camped near the Tiwa pueblo of Kuaua, first settled around AD 1300. At first—even for the first winter—the residents welcomed the exhausted and hungry explorers. Pueblo hospitality faded as the Spanish visitors extended their stay a second winter, stressing the hosts and their resources with continual demands. Eventually the explorers pressed on, leaving all that was golden behind, for at Kuaua are six kivas where archaeologists have found countless treasures. During the excavation of one, built around 1600, workers found layers of mural paintings that represent some of the finest examples of pre-Columbian mural art in the United States. The Kiva and one of the mural layers have been reconstructed for visitors to experience. In the Visitor Center, designed by architect John Gaw Meem, are several of the preserved mural segments, and Indian and Spanish colonial artifacts with interactives. From ramada-covered picnic tables, visitors can take in the same magnificent view seen by those traveling through, whether yesterday or four centuries ago.