Typical of most Spanish-influenced colonies, Santa Fe's Plaza has been (and still is) the central gathering place for the community and its social/political life since 1610. Its original function was as part of a Presidio (fort) surrounded by defensive walls. Eventually, those walls gave way to large houses. By 1822, the Santa Fe Trail (a commercial trade route from St. Louis, Missouri to Santa Fe) opened, and terminated in this Plaza. In these early days, the Plaza was also the end of the Old Pecos Trail (from Texas) and the El Camino Real (Royal Road) from Mexico City. Today, this National Historic Landmark, covered by grass, trees, and benches, includes a Native American War Memorial Monument, as well as a performing arts stage. Around the edge of the Plaza is the Palace of Governors (the oldest public building in the U.S.), the New Mexico Museum of Art, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, as well as commercial buildings in the traditional adobe/pueblo style of architecture. Any visit to Santa Fe's attractions should start at this very peaceful plaza at the heart of the city.
Many of the folks we've met here, such as Kevin from the Din'e Native American Tribe (Navaho), greeted us warmly.