SW National Parks Trip: San Miguel Mission

In my last post on our Southwest road trip, we visited the Loretto Chapel and the Oldest House in the U.S.A.  After that we visited the San Miguel Mission. This mission is reputed to be the oldest church in the United States, built between approximately 1610 and 1626 by the Tlaxcala Indians under the direction of Franciscan Friars.  It has seen a lot over 400 years.

After it was constructed and served the Spanish for several years, it was taken over by the Indians during the Pueblo revolt in 1680.  They revolted over the poor treatment they had received since the Spanish had arrived and tried to convert them all to Christianity.  Oh yeah, and there was that little detail about the forced labor for the the mission system too – including the construction of the San Miguel Mission.

The San Miguel Mission in Santa Fe

The San Miguel Mission in Santa Fe

During the revolt, the Puebloan people took over the mission and killed over half of monks.  The mission was heavily damaged as the Indians tried to destroy all signs and symbols of Christianity.  In all, 400 Spaniards were killed during the revolt and the remaining 2,000 were driven from the area.  The revolt lasted for 12 years before the Spanish retook the area in 1692 and rebuilt the mission.  All that remains now is the chapel; all the outbuildings and walls that existed during its time as a working mission are long gone.

For a mere $1 admission fee (additional donations are welcomed), you can see the mission chapel and ring the original bell. When they were restoring the mission, they left some of the original features exposed with cutouts covered with plexi-glass.  You can see the original adobe construction on the walls and underneath the current floor.  They show where and when renovations occurred, and they also indicate where they found a date carved into one of the old ceiling beams. It is amazing to think of how much history this old church has seen.

The Altar Inside the San Miguel Mission

The Altar Inside the San Miguel Mission

After seeing the trifecta of interesting historic sites (and it wasn’t even noon!), Jon wanted to just wander around the downtown area and see more. We checked out the outside of the current New Mexico State capitol building, with its many outdoor sculptures. The capitol building was built in 1966.  We found a cute little shopping mall in a historic building, but neither of us was really in the mood to shop. And we found a guy catcalling to us from the sidewalk, clearly trying to woo us, but we had no idea why.  I don’t know if there was a restaurant nearby… But he was pretty entertaining.

I have no idea what this was about!

I have no idea what this was about!

We decided we were hungry, so we tried wandering closer to the historic section to find a restaurant, but couldn’t really find anything outside of the immediate downtown core.  We finally asked a nice gentleman, and he sent us in search of Tia Sophia’s southwest restaurant. We looked and looked where we thought he had told us it was, without finding it.  We had given up and were in search of any old restaurant when we finally spotted a tiny little sign on the wall, with a small restaurant tucked in behind the door.  It was Tia Sophia’s!

I had the tamales; Jon had the bean burrito – they both came with a choice of green or red chile sauce.  Mine also came with rice and red beans.  It was a delicious meal!

Tamales! YUM!

Tamales! YUM!

After leaving Tia Sophia’s we took some photos of the bronze burro statue at the end of Burro Alley.  It was commissioned and placed there in 1988.  Sadly, in mid-May, someone vandalized the burro, tagging it with graffiti and stealing its tail!  The Arts Commission was able to have a replacement tail made to restore the statue in June, and the graffiti was able to be removed.  But who does that!?

The Burro Statue – With his Tail

The Burro Statue – With his Tail

We were having a wonderful day, and it wasn’t done yet!  We were going to see the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum next!

Have you been to the San Miguel Mission?  How about Tia Sophia’s restaurant?



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