Santa Fe Plaza and Museums
Today is our day to tour historic downtown Santa Fe so we stepped onto a city bus outside the RV Park for a 30-minute ride into the city.
Our first stop was the Georgia O’Keefe Museum, a lovely, intimate museum which was just the right size to give us a nice overview of the artist, her life and her work, who was so inspired by the landscape of New Mexico. O’Keefe was known as the first American modernist painter and her home, called “Ghost Ranch” in nearby Abiquiu, NM is now operated as a private retreat.
I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for. – Georgia O’Keefe
Then, on to the New Mexico History Museum, located in the Governor’s Palace. The Museum was extensive and the experience was brought alive for us by an excellent tour guide who entertained and informed with amusing anecdotes. A good tour guide can really make history come alive!
The connected Governor’s Palace was appealing but we were tired and instead of more history we wandered outside to the portico in front of the palace to view the jewelry being sold by the native American craftspeople. Yikes, the beautiful turquoise jewelry is very expensive. I’ll have to shop somewhere more budget-friendly.
The Santa Fe Plaza with its’ shaded fountains and welcoming benches was the perfect spot for a short rest, and we took pictures and people watched for a while.
Our next stop was the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, a marvelous cathedral surrounded by a beautiful shady park. It was constructed under the auspices of Cardinal Jean Lamay, the real-life hero of Willa Cather’s 1927 novel “Death Comes for the Archbishop” and an influential figure in New Mexico’s history. Cather’s remarkable book tells the tale of two French Catholic priests as they attempt to bring Christianity to the southwest and their adventures visiting Indian pueblos and Mexican ranches. It’s an important work that helps to explain the history of the region and I’d highly recommend that anyone visiting Santa Fe read it ahead of time.
Great shopping abounds in the neighborhood surrounding the basilica, including a wonderful shoe store. It was hard to pass by it, so I didn’t.
We found a trolley stop for the local tourist shuttle and journeyed on to San Miguel Chapel, one of the oldest churches in the Western hemisphere. There is so much to see in Santa Fe, including the four museums, botanical garden and café on Museum Hill which we didn’t have the time or energy to visit. We will have to come back again to see them all.