TAOS PUEBLO is an ancient village belonging to a Tiwa speaking Native American tribe of Pueblo people. Located 2.5 miles north of Taos, New Mexico, this community is known for being one of the most private, secretive, and conservative pueblos. Ancestors of the Taos Indians lived in the valley long before Columbus discovered America, and hundreds of years before Europe emerged from the Dark Ages.
The main part of the present buildings are thought to have been constructed between 1000 and 1450 A.D., and are considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States. Tradition dictates that no electricity or running water be allowed within the Pueblo walls. Most members live in conventional homes outside the village walls, but occupy their Pueblo houses for ceremonials - approximately 150 people live within the Pueblo full time. Other families owning homes in the North or South buildings live in summer homes near their fields, and in more modern homes outside the old walls but still within Pueblo land. There are over 1900 Taos Indians living on Taos Pueblo lands, which cover approx. 99,000 acres.
Guided tours are available May-October; visitors are welcomed daily from 8:00am to 4:30pm; the Pueblo is closed during some religious ceremonies, so check the site calendar if you know when you'll be travelling. There is a fee for admission, and for photography. We arrived on San Juan Feast Day, in June, and while there was no admission fee that day, there was also no photography permitted (we were also witness to a Corn Dance that day - the above photo from a 1930's postcard).http://www.taospueblo.com/.
In the heart of TAOS itself, sits Don Fernando de Taos Plaza - settled by Spanish colonists more than 300 years ago, it still retains its original shape (and the requisite town gazebo I've looked for in every little SW town we've swung through). Built for defense; windows and doors faced into the plaza and the limited entrances could be barricaded. During the Civil War, patriots guarded an American flag on the plaza. Because of their efforts, Taos Plaza was given the honor of flying the flag day and night, a tradition which continues to this day.
Today, the old mercantile stores in the Plaza house galleries, restaurants and shops. I can highly recommend the Green Chili Stew and margaritas at THE GORGE BAR AND GRILL, overlooking the beautiful little park. The large bronze statue pictured (adjacent to The Plaza), called Lincoln's Union by Charles Collins, was comprised of three parts - forming the face of Lincoln from the front, a Union and Confederate soldier, while from the rear, the center, cloaked figure of "Hope" is holding the light for both sides (she was in the shadows that day, sadly). Nearby Kit Carson Road, Bent, and Ledoux Streets lead to even more historic homes, neighborhoods, and shopping areas.
The hollyhocks are spectacular, throughout the town. I've made a goal to grow some for myself this year...at the very least, to start them. In peat pots. Inside my house. So the desert ground squirrels who are so fond of the shoots that start up every time I try planting them from seeds don't strip them to the ground again, this Spring.All within easy walking distance (make sure to bring a bottle of water with you), and right around the corner from the Plaza, sit the Governor Bent Museum and Gallery - once the home of Charles Bent, New Mexico's first territorial governor who was killed during the Taos Uprising of 1847; and across the road, a few blocks up, Kit Carson Memorial State Park and Cemetery. Larger than life, even in his own day, Kit Carson was a trapper, scout, Indian agent, soldier and authentic legend of the West. From about 1828 to 1831, Carson used Taos as a base camp for fur-trapping expeditions that often took him as far West as California - upon his death in CO, he was returned here for burial.
Memorable sights in this little town...these were all taken outside the cemetery, on our trek back to the Plaza. Please visit TAOS.ORG for more information on planning a visit of your own.
More hollyhocks - with some gorgeous blue lupines thrown in, for good measure.
Jump in the car to visit the beautiful SAN FRANCISCO DE ASIS CHURCH, which was built between 1772 and 1816. Located in Ranchos de Taos, about four miles southwest of town, it's known as one of the most photographed and painted churches in the world, being immortalized by Georgia O'Keeffe and Ansel Adams, among others. Every spring, the people of the community gather to mud a new layer of adobe on the walls, preserving their church in the time-worn ways of northern New Mexico. Across the dirt parking lot sit the remnants of old adobe buildings from times past...not so lucky in the re-mudding "department" of life...
AND, Andy's La Fiesta Saloon! Too early in the day to stop (though I know it's always 5:00 somewhere), it brought a smile (my Dad's nickname is "Andy"), and a photo op to immortalize a not-so-famous building for our own sake - it's always a fiesta at Andy's!
An ultra-quick glance into a beautiful Southwest town, rife with history and charm. So much more to explore than what have I touched on here! 12 miles northwest of town, for instance, sits the second highest bridge on the U.S. Highway system - 650 feet above the Rio Grand River, is the RIO GRANDE GORGE BRIDGE.
There's an incredible amount to see in this great land of ours (or whatever land you might call home, for that matter) - here's hoping I might be able to spark an interest in a road trip or two, and making memories of your own this year.
Safe travels down that highway of life, this week - onwards to Santa Fe...