Old Town Albuquerque
After over 300 years after Albuquerque’s first neighborhood founding, Old Town remains a center of art, culture, chopping, architecture, and cuisine. This neighborhood was established in 1706 after a group of Spanish families settled in this location, not far from the Rio Grande. The Spanish settlers organized their new site in a traditional colonial Spanish way; they added a central plaza anchored by a church.
After the original church collapsed after the 1792 rainy summer, locals rebuilt the church, and in 1793, the San Felipe de Neri Church was completed. Today, this made out of adobe church, with five feet thick walls, is Albuquerque’s oldest church; its white towers mark the Old Town neighborhood from a distance. San Felipe church remains functioning as a catholic church. As you wander around Old Town, you may see couples posing for special events pictures like weddings in the plaza’s gazebo.
In a Spanish Pueblo style, most of Old Town’s architecture is made of adobe. These traditional buildings have stuccoed walls with rounded edges, supported with vigas -heavily wooded beans- ceilings, and flat roofs. The railroad’s arrival in 1880 brought new architectural styles, and you can find several victorian buildings that house offices, shops, and breakfasts. Despite centuries of continuous change, this neighborhood kept its charming character.
Old Town Plaza is the historic heart of Albuquerque city, where you can find refuge from the fast traffic. Old Town’s beginning in 1706 started when the Spanish governor of New Mexico, Francisco Cuervo y Valdes, certified the Villa de Albuquerque founding. At the time, Spain’s Laws of the Indies required setting a plaza at any villa’s center.
Centered around the plaza, Old Town comprises around ten blocks of historic buildings. On the north side, you can find the San Felipe de Neri Church, and surrounding this building, Albuquerque’s settlers have built their homes, government offices, and shops, many of which have become art galleries, shops, and restaurants of Old Town. Over 100 stores and sites feature various Southwestern artwork like sculptures, jewelry, pottery, weaving, and painting. In addition, the Albuquerque Museum, Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum, and New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science are all located east of Old Town, showcasing unique world-class exhibits.