Chimayo New Mexico

Chimayo New Mexico is located 40 miles south of Taos and 25 miles northeast of Santa Fe, in the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains, a sub range of the Rocky Mountains that extends into Colorado. Chimayo travel takes you along Highway 76, the "High Road to Taos," a scenic route passing through lovely old Spanish villages and the timeless landscapes immortalized in the paintings of Georgia O'Keeffe.

It was settled after the Pueblo Revolt against Spanish rulers of what was then New Spain. These Chimayo New Mexico settlers were farmers, ranchers, artisans, and weavers, and the area is today known for high quality woven goods in the tradition of generations of the Ortega and Trujillo families. Many shops contain their work as well as fine art and crafts from the region. This tradition, combined with beautiful colonial architecture and landscapes means that Chimayo travel is very rewarding. Its central plaza, called Plaza del Cerro, was built about 1740 and is the last surviving Spanish fortified plaza in the Southwest United States. Its south side is overlooked by a defensive watch tower and a small chapel is on the west side. The acequia madre, or main irrigation ditch, the heartbeat of every northern New Mexico rural area, runs through the plaza.

Additionally, the legendary shrine El Santuario de Chimayo is undoubtedly the most visited church in the state of New Mexico. Around the year 1810, a local friar, Don Bernardo Abeyta, saw a light bursting from a nearby hillside while he was performing his traditional penances. After digging, he found a crucifix, which was given the name Miraculous Crucifix of Our Lord of Esquipulas. Three times a priest brought the artifact to Santa Cruz, and three times it disappeared and reappeared in its original place of discovery. A chapel was then built on the site, and miraculous healings began. These became so numerous that the current Santuario de Chimayo was built in 1816.

This adobe mission is now known as the Lourdes of America and Easter Week sees thousands making the pilgrimage to the sacred site. There are still many claims of miraculous cures, and the Santuario de Chimayo walls are adorned with discarded crutches and photographs illustrating the cures. Nearly 50,000 Holy Week pilgrims per year traditionally walk the 25 miles from Santa Fe if they are physically able. Some walk 80 miles from Albuquerque. Some actually crawl on their knees for the last few yards. Including these pilgrims, close to 500,000 people embark on Chimayo travel to visit the church during the rest of the year. It was a privately owned chapel until 1929 when it was turned over to the Archdiocese of New Mexico. Santuario de Chimayo was named a National Historic Landmark in 1970.

Chimayo New Mexico is also famous for its heirloom Chimayo chile pepper that has been cultivated here for more than 300 years. You will undoubtedly taste these while dining on fine local cuisine in the local restaurants. In fact, one of the state's oldest restaurants, Rancho de Chimayo, is located in town, and the town is home to a locally famous tortilla company. There are numerous Chimayo hotels in the area, and those closest to the town are primarily historic and charming old bed and breakfast inns built in the Spanish colonial hacienda style. The communities of Santa Cruz and Los Alamos about eight miles away also have several hotels and motels.

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