Our guide to Santa Fe history begins with the Pueblo Indian Villages and ends with Santa Fe trivia. We invite you to make the most of your stay in our Santa Fe vacation rentals and this oldest capital city in North America.
1050 to 1607 Santa Fe’ was originally occupied by a number of Pueblo Indian villages – mostly the Tewa people.
The “Kingdom of New Mexico” was first claimed for Spain by the conquistador Don Francisco Vasques de Coronado in 1540, 67 years before the founding of Santa Fe.
Don Juan de Onate became the first Governor-General of New Mexico and established the capital in 1598 at San Juan Pueblo, 25 miles north of Santa Fe. After Onate retired, Don Pedro de Peralta was appointed Governor-General in 1609. One year later, he had moved the capital to present day Santa Fe.
1607 to 1692 Spanish soldiers and officials, as well as Franciscan missionaries, tried to conquer and convert the Pueblo Indians of the region.
Pueblo Indians revolted against the estimated 2,500 Spanish colonists in New Mexico, killing 400 of them and driving the rest back into Mexico. The conquering Pueblos attacked Santa Fe and burned most of the buildings, except the Palace of the Governors. Pueblo Indians occupied Santa Fe until 1692, when Don Diego de Vargas reconquered the region.
William Becknell opened the 1,000-mile-long Santa Fe Trail, from Arrow Rock, Missouri, with 21 men and a pack train of goods. Americans found Santa Fe and New Mexico not as uncivilized as they’d thought. One traveler called the region the “Siberia of the Mexican Republic.”
In 1851, Jean B. Lamy, arrived in Santa Fe when he began construction of the Saint Francis Cathedral.
1912 to present: The Museum of New Mexico had opened in 1909, and by 1917, its Museum of Fine Arts was built.
The state museum’s emphasis on local history and native culture did much to reinforce Santa Fe’s image as an “exotic” city.
Today, Santa Fe is recognized as one of the most intriguing cities in the nation, due largely to the city’s preservation of historic buildings and a modern zoning code, passed in 1958, that mandates the city’s distinctive Spanish-Pueblo style of architecture This architecture is based on the adobe (mud and straw) and wood construction of the past. Also preserved are the traditions of the city’s rich cultural heritage which helps make Santa Fe one of the country’s most diverse and interesting places to visit.
Santa Fe Trivia:
- The Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe is the oldest government building in the nation. The Spanish built it as part of a fortress during the winter of 1609-1610.
- Santa Fe is the highest capital city in the United States at 7,000 feet above sea level.
- Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in North America and also the oldest European city west of the Mississippi.
- Santa Fe Fiestas is the nation’s oldest community celebration starting in 1712 commemorating the Spanish re-conquest of New Mexico in the summer of 1692.