San Miguel Mission, Santa Fe, NM

Visiting Santa Fe usually means history, culture, and numerous art galleries will be on the list of things to do. For those looking to plan their leisure or business travel the Mission of San Miguel in Santa Fe, New Mexico is one site that should be on the list. The mission is the epitome of colonial Catholicism in the USA. The mission is still being used for Catholic masses, which brings about the history and melding of cultures one can find within the adobe walls.

The church was built in 1610 with high windows and an altar screen. The screen was erected in 1798 offering more than just an amazing architectural feature, but also something one does not often see from history. There is a 780 pound San Jose bell which is located inside the church. The bell was cast in Spain in 1356 and later moved to Santa Fe. Among the other items to see at the church are the buffalo hide and deerskin Bible paintings. These things were used in Franciscan missionaries in the 1630s to teach Native Americans.

Since the mission is of historical and archeological value, anthropologists have studied it. They even excavated near the altar to find the floor built in 1610. The floor was said to be from a 12th century pueblo. There is a small store near the sanctuary that sells religious artifacts and a few souvenirs to help visitors remember their trip.

The San Miguel Mission is located on 401 Old Santa Fe Trail at East De Vargas Street. The mission is open Monday through Saturday from 9am to 5pm. On Sunday the church is open 9am to 4pm. The summer hours will allow the church to open a bit earlier for tours and mass. The last mass on Sunday is at 5pm. For those wishing to tour the mission but not stay for mass an admission of $1 for adults is required. Children six and under are free. The donation goes towards upkeep of the church, as well as an appreciation for the tour one receives while visiting.

To access the mission one must go from the Loretto Chapel along the Santa Fe Trail which also crosses the river. The Santa Fe Trail has been extremely important to residents of Santa Fe. It allowed settlers to move into the area. It also makes sense to have the mission founded on the trail that was so imperative to early settler history.

The walls of the mission are immense with massive carved beams called vigas. They were used to support the roof of the adobe construction. There are also corbel arches that define the mission's architecture. The bell tower still stands, but as mentioned the bell is no longer in the tower. It was brought down to help preserve the tower due to its weight. It also allows visitors to see the old bell. There are four sub floors in the mission though they are not part of the tour.

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