Chimayo

A Sanctuary For Tradition

Chimayo is a small community that lies in the foothills of the renowned Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Founded by Spanish settlers just before the start of the 18th century, this is a beautiful and fertile valley that gets its water from the Santa Cruz River. The people here started thriving on farming, weaving and stock raising. Since there were a lot of foreign threats at that time, they built a fortified plaza to protect them. Called San Buenaventura at that time, it is now commonly known as Plaza de Cerro. It is one of the few fortified plazas in the US that are still intact. Today however this community is no longer a secluded niche for Spanish settlers but a fully functioning tourist attraction. With so much beauty and natural habitat surrounding them and making the whole place look so mesmerizing, Chimayo sees a lot of tourist activity all year round. There are a lot of traditional activities that will amuse you while you are visiting this place. With their expertise in weaving, stock raising and even arts which include both Tewa Indian and Hispanic works. There is a lot to experience in this place and you will find yourself exploring something new every single day. Read on to find out more about some of the places you can visit in this amazing little town.

El Santuario de Chimayo

This famous chapel is quite famous and its picture can be found on the cover of a lot of books. One of the most beautiful things here is the baptismal fount which is a very beautiful piece of wood. What you feel when you enter the chapel is an air of love which was the biggest ingredient in the decoration of this chapel. The chapel for children is particularly worth seeing because of the impeccable decorations there. There is also a souvenir shop there that sells carved statues, rosaries, cards etc. The whole place is always kept clean and it is a great way of starting off your tour of Chimayo. One very interesting thing about this chapel is that it is believed to be a place where there have been several miraculous healings. Pilgrims and visitors amounting in thousands visit this chapel all year round.

Chimayo Museum

Established in 1995, this museum is dedicated to the preservation of the culture of Chimayo and the natural habitat surrounding it. Located in Plaza del Cerro, it houses a lot of relics from the past including tools, furniture and also clothing. There is a big collection of black and white photographs too that shows common life scenes from late 1800s and the early 1900s. One of the biggest purposes of this museum is to teach the local children about their heritage and hone in them the traditional crafting skills that have been passed down to them for generations. If you visit at the right time you can also catch their annual competition where high school kids showcase their work in weaving, furniture making, photography, fine arts and pottery. The museum is definitely worth setting the time aside for.

Cuisine

There are a number of different restaurants here that serve great quality local cuisine that you must try. Do visit the following places while you are there:

  • Leona’s Restaurante de Chimayo: They have the most amazing coffee, ice cream and biscochito. The service is good and the staff is very welcoming. You can also shop for gifts that are unique to this place. The restaurant stays open from 11am till 5pm and is close on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Phone: 505-351-4569
  • Rancho de Chimayo: This an exceptionally good restaurant that serves several well known traditional and contemporary dishes that are specific to the native cuisine of New Mexico. The environment is set in a 1965 setting and the whole place provides a great at-home feeling whenever you visit. The place stays open from 11.30am till 9pm daily. Mondays are off during winters. Phone: 505-351-4444

Santa Cruz Lake

The trip to Chimayo will be considered incomplete without a visit to this beautiful lake with breathtaking views. Formed as a result of the construction of Santa Cruz Dam, this beautiful spot is one of the most visited places in all of Chimayo, perhaps even in New Mexico. You can spend a great time in this spot with boating and fishing to keep you amused. Picnicking, camping and hiking are a very common activity here.

Chimayo may be a very small town but it has a lot to offer to its visitors in terms of culture, hospitality and natural beauty. The places talked about above are only a few among many other tourist attractions. Visiting this place is a must if you are in New Mexico.

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