ALBUQUERQUE OLD TOWN
The B&B is just 1 mile East of Old Town Albuquerque, a great place to do some shopping, visit museums and get some wonderful authentic regional food.
OLD TOWN HISTORY
Old Town is Albuquerque’s first neighborhood; it was settled in 1706 near the banks of the Rio Grande River. Albuquerque was settled as an agricultural community and military outpost, along the Camino Real between Chihuahua and Santa Fe. Old Town was organized in the traditional Spanish pattern of a central plaza, which is then surrounded by homes, church and governmental buildings. Some of the original homes are still standing and are being used as both residences and businesses.
San Felipe de Neri Church has been in continuous use for over 300 years, founded in 1706, the present church was built in 1793 and currently has over 800 families registered as active parishioners. The church is listed on both the State and National Register for Historical Properties, and is opened to the public daily. The Church Museum is open Monday through Saturday 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, donations are accepted. Masses are scheduled for Saturday 5:30 PM, Sunday 7:00 AM, 8:30 AM (in Spanish), and 10:15 AM.
The town was named after the Duke of Alburquerque in the early 1800s, by Provisional Governor Cuervo y Valdez, the first “r” was dropped and the town became know as Albuquerque. The railroad arrived in 1880 and went through what became known as “New Town”, the present day location of Albuquerque’s downtown business district.
For those looking for authentic adobe buildings, Old Town is the place to look. True adobe is constructed of adobe bricks (made of mud and straw) that are sun baked. The bricks are then covered by a layer of mud or cement to bind them together. Adobe walls can be two feet thick and provide excellent support and insulation and can last for decades or longer. Many newer homes in Albuquerque mimic the original adobe construction using modern frame/stucco techniques. The labor-intensive cost of creating a true adobe home has prevented the traditional brick approach from being used. Another variation on adobe is straw built homes, which use straw bales that are stacked to form walls and then covered with the traditional adobe mud or cement. The resulting home is extremely stable and has a large insulation factor that classifies the home as a “Green” or energy efficient home.
Chile is the keyword in New Mexico, whether it’s red or green, and it’s served as a sauce on burritos, tacos, enchiladas and other traditional dishes. Until you get use to the hot spices, you should ask for it to be served on the side and add just the amount you find to your taste. Chile is made into the colorful Ristras that you will see hanging in front of the different buildings in Old Town, you can purchase your own in some of the shops surrounding the Plaza. You will also see Luminarias surrounding Old Town in December to celebrate the Holidays. Luminarias are made up of candles set into a bed of sand and contained within paper bags. Luminarias light the way along the streets of Old Town according to the tradition of lighting the way for the Christ Child.
Old Town has been the center of Albuquerque’s history for over three centuries. Old Town is just off of Interstate 40, use the Rio Grande Blvd. exit south to the entrance at Mountain Road. If you prefer the Historic Route 66, just head west through Albuquerque unto you cross Rio Grande Blvd. and you’re at the beginning of Old Town. Old Town is best experienced by walking, so park your car and follow the brick path that winds throughout the area. There are plenty of places to shop: 25 art galleries, shops with clothing and jewelry, and general stores and trading posts make up the more than 100 places to visit. Many long time residents of the area maintain “street shops” surrounding the plaza and sell their handmade goods out in the fresh air.
THINGS TO DO IN OLD TOWN
Shopping is a very popular activity in Old Town, and it’s easy to understand why. With over 25 art galleries and almost 100 boutiques and shops in total, there are plenty of places for purchases You may want to browse around the shops to get a good idea of prices, then make your selections.
Take a Walking Tour. Docent-led tours start at the Albuquerque Museum, or pick up their self-guided tour brochure. For a spooky good time, take an evening tour with New Mexico Ghost Tours and learn where the haunts hang out.
Several fine museums cluster around Old Town.
Turquoise Museum (2107 Central Ave. NW, next to Walgreen’s) – A good place to learn about turquoise and silver jewelry to prepare for a shopping expedition.
Albuquerque Museum of Art, History and Science – The museum explains 400 years of New Mexico history. Old Town walking tours start from here, and they have some nice children’s exhibits including a dress-up area. Pick up a copy of their self-guided walking tour if you can’t make the guided one.
New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science – A fun museum where science comes to life. Features include a life-sized Quetzalcoatlus soaring in the atrium, a planetarium show, a walk-through volcano and a comet-busting adventure ride.
American International Rattlesnake Museum– Located inside a gift shop, they claim to have the world’s largest collection of live rattlesnakes.