The seat of government for more than four centuries, New Mexico has one of the oldest as well as one of the newest capitols in the United States. The Oldest is the Palace of Governors which dates to 1610
Originally constructed in the early 17th century as Spain's seat of government for what is today the American Southwest, the Palace of the Governors chronicles the history of Santa Fe, as well as New Mexico and the region.
and is the oldest public building in the United States. It served as the region’s capitol for colonial Spain, Mexico, the Pueblo Indians and the Confederacy (for a couple of weeks in 1862).
The area of Santa Fe was originally occupied by indigenous people, who had built a number of Pueblo villages about 1050 to 1150. One of the earliest known settlements in what today is downtown Santa Fe came sometime after 900. A Native American group built a cluster of homes that centered around the site of today's Plaza and spread for half a mile to the south and west; the village was called Ogapoge. Don Juan de Onate led the first European effort to colonize the region in 1598, establishing Santa Fe de Nuevo México as a province of New Spain.
State Seal on the Rotunda Floor
The Zia Indians of New Mexico regard the Sun as a sacred symbol. Their symbol, a red circle with groups of rays pointing in four directions, is painted on ceremonial vases, drawn on the ground around campfires, and used to introduce newborns to the Sun.
Four is the sacred number of the Zia and can be found repeated in the four points radiating from the circle. The number four is embodied in:
- the four points of the compass (north, south, east and west);
- the four seasons of the year (spring, summer, autumn and winter);
- the four periods of each day (morning, noon, evening and night);
- the four seasons of life (childhood, youth, middle years and old age); and
- the four sacred obligations one must develop (a strong body, a clear mind, a pure spirit, and a devotion to the welfare of others), according to Zia belief.
The symbol is featured on the Flag of New Mexico and in the design of both the New Mexico State Capitol and New Mexico's State Quarter entry as well as the state highway markers.
Doors to House and Senate Chambers
Backs of Chairs in House and Senate Chambers
The State Supreme Court does not meet at the Capitol but in a separate building in Santa Fe.
Pie Town Exhibit in the Governor’s Office
A remarkable photo exhibit of a small rural community 7,800 feet west of the Continental Divide in Catron County in west-central New Mexico … photographed by Russell Lee for the U.S. Farm Administration in the summer and fall of 1940. Many of Pie Town’s settles were “Dust Bowl” refugees from Oklahoma and Texas seeking a new start.
Throughout the Capitol building are more than 600 pieces of artwork on permanent display, all works of New Mexico artists.
Some we Loved and Understood
Including Beautiful Furniture lining the Hallways
Others Pieces are a Complete Mystery
But, Most Intriguing
This buffalo has inspired art since the first cave drawings. As the artist focuses his art on emphasizing recycling and environmental awareness; old paintbrushes form the bridge of the nose and old film is woven into the brow; pottery shards are also worked into the nose, connecting Native Americans and the buffalo through pieces of dried mud; news from the 1992 Super Bowl “Redskins Buffalo Hunt a Winner” newspaper clipping are found in the horns; One eye is a lantern, symbol of light, hope and strength; the other eye is a fishing reel with a horseshoe surrounding it; clear plastic spoons are the irises.
As the Capitol Grounds are minimal … and perhaps as there is an abundance of outstanding sculpture throughout Santa Fe, there only a few pieces on the Capitol grounds, all commemorating the State’s rich native history.
After leaving the State Capitol, we wandered through Old Santa Fe, which we’d visited several years ago. Some of the interesting things and people we saw included:
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
Its congregation established and first church built in 1610. The church was destroyed in 1680 and rebuilt in1714. The cornerstone for the present structure was laid in1850.and finally completed in 1895.
The Tiled Post of a Parking Meter
San Miguel Chapel
and across the narrow street …
The Oldest House in the USA
A Local for who a Bad Hair Day is not an Issue
Center for the Preforming Arts
It is known for its unusual helix-shaped spiral staircase.
When the Loretto Chapel was completed in 1878, there was no way to access the choir loft twenty-two feet above. Carpenters were called in to address the problem, but they all concluded access to the loft would have to be via ladder as a staircase would interfere with the interior space of the small Chapel. The stairway's carpenter, whoever he was, built a magnificent structure. The design was innovative for the time and some of the design considerations still perplex experts today. The staircase has two 360 degree turns and no visible means of support. Also, it is said that the staircase was built without nails—only wooden pegs. Questions also surround the number of stair risers relative to the height of the choir loft and about the types of wood and other materials used in the stairway's construction.
Colorful Serapes on sale everywhere
Building in Which Billy the Kid was Jailed
The notorious New Mexico, Billy the Kid, was captured and successfully imprisoned for the last time in the downstairs jail housed in the Cornell Building (above) from December 1880 to April 1881; after which he was moved to Mesilla, NM for trail. He was found guilty and sentenced to hang and then moved to a Lincoln County jail from which he escaped. He was later shot and killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett in Ft. Summer, NM on July 14, 1881.
Bronze sculptures throughout the City
A Musician playing a “Handpan”
Sounding like a mariachi steel drum, the Handpan is a term for a group of musical instruments resulting from a growing worldwide interest in the Hang, an instrument invented and built by the German company PANArt Hangbau AG.
Late this afternoon, we watched a thunderstorm approach and then pass over us. As the clouds began to dissipate and the sun reappear, a rainbow appeared … first dimly than morphing into an arc of truly brilliant color … to the east against the dark sky and Sandia Mountains which lingered for more than an half hour.
It wasn’t until we reviewed our pictures later this evening that we realized there was also a faint double rainbow.