Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day Trips: High Road to Taos, Part 1 in a Series

The High Road to Taos brings the traveler up 284 North from Santa Fe, through Pojoaque (Po-wa-kay) to Nambe. There, it leaves the highway to travel through the distinct and stunning landscape of the ‘badlands’ between Nambe and the tiny but historically significant village of Chimayo. A stop at this traditional Spanish town is a must, for it holds many mysteries and delights for the visitor. Built of plazas and placitas, Chimayo is home to the oldest surviving fortified plaza in the Southwest.

Chimayo is also home to the “Lourdes of America.” El Santuario de Chimayo is known for the healing powers of the earth, small amounts of which are taken away by the more than 300,000 who visit this shrine each year. The Santuario also attracts thousands of pilgrims who walk dozens, and sometimes hundreds of miles each Easter week to give thanks and ask for blessings.

Chimayo’s history and attraction for the faithful are only the beginning of what this little village has to offer. Stop in at one of its numerous restaurants to enjoy the famous heirloom Chimayo chile, a mild, but extremely flavorful variety of chile which was so prized for medicinal as well as cooking purposes, it was once used as a currency.

Then a look through the many galleries featuring traditional arts of the region is in order. You will find tin-smithing, painting and wood carving. But Chimayo’s best known artists are the Ortega and Trujillo families, who have been practicing traditional Spanish weaving in Chimayo for generations. Their art would ultimately become so revered, that it is now known as the Chimayo style of weaving. You will find blankets, clothing, purses, pillows, furniture mats, seat covers, couch throws, wall hangings, and one-of-a-kind tapestries.

Set as it is in its beautiful high desert landscape, and built of traditional adobe architecture, Chimayo offers the visitor a wealth of fascinating history, as well as exceptional dining and shopping.

Read more about the historic Spanish settlement of Chimayo

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