Old Town is the heart of Albuquerque's heritage. The first families settled near the banks of the Rio Grande in 1706. Albuquerque was a colonial farming village and a military outpost along the Camino Real between Chihuahua and Santa Fe. The village formed in the traditional Spanish pattern of a central plaza surrounded by the church, government buildings and homes.
Provincial Governor Cuervo y Valdez named the villa in honor of the Viceroy of New Spain, the Duke of Albuquerque. Albuquerque's Old Town Plaza, is a serene focal point of community life since 1706. Quiet hidden patios, winding brick paths, gardens and balconies are waiting to be discovered. Wrought iron benches and adobe bancos beckon you to rest in the shade and watch people stroll by. The afternoon we arrived in Old Town, crowds of people were gathered in the Old Town Plaza. A wedding ceremony was taking place in the garden gazebo while a Maruichi band played which seemed to include the bystanders into the wedding festivities. A horse drawn carriage then whisked the bridal party around the small town with people waving on every street corner.
The church of San Felipe de Neri was originally built on the west side of the plaza. In 1793, the site was changed to the present location. Entering the church, we sat near the rear of the sanctuary. Mass was about to begin and many people were offering prayers. We spent time in the "visitor's center" and learned of the history of this mission church.
When in New Mexico - eat like New Mexicans! A sidewalk cafe found us enjoying both the food and surroundings as the sun set on the Old Town Park as we sipped frozen drinks and ate home made tortillas.