This is one of the more unique museums in the American Southwest. It's not a huge museum, which makes the museum that much more intimate and special. You can learn all about rattlesnakes and their habits here. There's videos on some documentaries on different reptile species that plays throughout the museum. There's also live rattlesnakes of different types encase in glass aquariums. I didn't know there were so many different types! It's not just rattlesnakes, there's also tarantulas and tortoises and even a Gila Monster, and they're all living! This museum claims to have the biggest display of live rattlesnakes in the world. If you're wandering around Old Town, make sure you check this out, a museum that's unique to New Mexico! They even have a little exhibit on Steve Irwin to look at! The price for adults is 5 dollars, there's also senior discounts.
There are about 150 shops/restaurants covering two plus square blocks. They all have the same type items to sell in the jewelery, turquoise, T shirts, leather goods, and art works. After a while, it all looks the same, but I did buy a couple of good pieces of jewelery for the right price. many restaurants are interspersed in between the shops. Strolling through the streets and alcoves is pleasant.
This village was started in 1706, and it continued to expand since.
The Candy Lady has been an Albuquerque fixture for decades. It's as the title implies, a candy shop. A very unique candy shop. The inside is old fashioned and cozy. They have a lot of delectable sweets to test your taste buds. They even have some of the "dirty" kind of sweets, which if you're into that thing you'll wanna check out. You're offered a sample of some candy upon entry.
If you're familiar with the Breaking Bad TV series, you'll recognize this as one of the locations in the show, and where they make their "wares". It's a type of crystal candy that's exclusive to this shop.
In the southwest of the USA, you will find many towns whose history is that of a Spanish colonial city and, as such, you will find that many have a plaza filled with history, such as Albuquerque's Old Town Plaza.
Founded in 1706, the town grew as settlers built houses near the church, surrounded by a defensive system of walls and gates.
Albuquerque's Old Town Plaza is a very pleasant place, surrounded by sightseeing opportunities, shopping and restaurants serving traditional Mexican and south-west American dishes. At the centre of the plaza is a bandstand/gazebo, surrounded by a relaxing green space, provided with benches for seating. At one side of the plaza there are also two replicas of cannons, the originals were buried by Confederate troops as they retreated from the area during the Civil War but can now be found in Albuquerque Museum.
On the north side of the Plaza is the old church of San Felipe de Neri, whilst on the remaining three sides there is a wide selection of shops offering jewellery and other crafts from the Native American tribes of the area. Albuquerque's Old Town Plaza offers much better pricing for these souvenirs than that found in Santa Fe.
Close to Old Town Plaza you will find a selection of hidden patios, approached via winding brick paths and provided with small gardens; these often contain more shopping and dining options.
The Old Town in Albuquerque is unique in that much of it retains the charms of the Old West. Art galleries, cafes, local Indian jewelry, plus Indians selling their own jewelry as licensed vendors in the Plaza. The small shaded park in the plaza is pleasant. Also exhibited are several old cannons.
As in any Spanish colonial city, the heart of Albuquerque’s Old Town is its Plaza. The town was founded in 1706 and as it grew settlers built their houses near the church and around a defensible centre, which eventually became the plaza.
Shaded with trees it is a very pleasant place in which to take a rest between sightseeing and shopping (the two main activities in the Old Town). Children play and both locals and tourists relax on the benches. At the centre is a gazebo which apparently is a popular place for wedding photos to be taken after ceremonies in the church. Also on the plaza are two replicas of cannons which were buried by retreating Confederate troops during a Civil War skirmish on April 8 – 9, 1862. The original cannons are in the Albuquerque Museum.
The Plaza is surrounded by restaurants and shops with high tourist-appeal - despite the presence of the attractive old church of San Felipe de Neri, shopping appears to be something of a religion in the Old Town. Under the porticos of some of the buildings, Native American traders sell jewellery and other crafts. We didn’t buy anything here (although were to do so a couple of days later in a similar setting in Santa Fe) but it looked a good option if you are shopping – it’s always nice to buy direct rather than pay shop overheads!
This tiny cross-shaped chapel is a hidden gem of the Old Town, and I’m sure many tourists pass by without realising that is there – we certainly would have done so if it were not for our trusty Moon Handbook, as it isn’t visible from the road and neither is it signposted. It is dedicated to the first saint of Mexico and it is clear by the votive candles burning here, the flowers and the little prayer messages that it is an active place of devotion. The image of the Virgin of Guadalupe dominates one arm of the cross, to your right as you enter, and opposite it is a colourful stained glass circular window (photo two) which acts as a perpetual calendar, showing the Feasts of the Virgin and the phases of the moon. Opposite the entrance is a small altar.
After our visit I found a story associated with the chapel, which claims that it is haunted by a lady in black. She has apparently often been seen seated on the far right bench of the chapel, weeping copiously. She wears a long black dress and her face is concealed by a dark veil. She is often mistaken for a real person, until she mysteriously vanishes, at which point the observer realises that she cannot after all be real. The lady is not menacing or threatening, but those who have seen her say that there is a deep sense of sadness emulating from her.
The chapel is not old, having been built in 1975 by a Dominican nun, Sister Giotto, as part of the establishment of a school of sacred art in Albuquerque. Outside the chapel a wall is decorated with a number of small ceramic tiles set in at intervals, portraying various saints – see photo three for one that caught my eye, of St Francis I think.
The most striking building in Albuquerque’s Old Town is the church of San Felipe de Neri on the north side of the Plaza, the oldest building in the city. With its slightly incongruous white wooden spires gleaming against the blue sky it is very hard to miss. These spires are a later addition to the late 18th century adobe structure, which itself was built to replace the original (1706) building that collapsed after the particularly rainy summer of 1792. These spires were added under the direction of Bishop Jean Baptiste Lamy, whom we were to encounter again later in our trip, in Santa Fe. This French bishop came to the area with very European ideas of what a place of worship should look like – and it wasn’t built of mud!
The bulk of San Felipe de Neri is adobe however, with five foot thick walls. Its cool interior would have been welcoming in the heat of the afternoon even if we hadn’t been interested to explore within. It isn’t large but is quite grand in appearance, with an ornate Baroque altar (see photo three) and an elaborate pressed-tin ceiling (added in 1916).
I freely confess that I did not sample the excitement available from the nightly Ghost Tours of Old Town -- they even have a Full Moon ghost hunting tour if your schedule happens to coincide with the lunar event -- both because I don't like to be scared and because they begin nightly at 8:00 PM which is about the time when I start thinking about cocoa and a good book. However, for everyone who isn't such a stick-in-the-mud, by all means give the tours a try and let me know what I missed!
According to the website, you get ninety minutes of lantern-lit exploration of three hundred years of haunted history for your $20.00 ticket.
Yes, it's Tourist Central but what the heck - we kicked off the hiking boots and joined the masses for an afternoon. Old Town is roughly bordered by Mountain Rd. on the north, Central Avenue on the south, Rio Grande Blvd on the west, 19th street on the east, and has been the heart of Albuquerque for over 300 years. No ugly strip mall or "big box" stores here - the small shops, restaurants and galleries gather about shaded plazas and patios, and surround a two-centuries-old adobe church. On the east side is Albuquerque Museum of Art and History - a nice escape from the heat of a New Mexican summer - and a very good sculpture garden that's free for the roaming.
As with most tourist hubs, the merchandise quality ranges from very nice to downright tacky, and gallery prices from many figures to just a couple. Restaurants serve up everything from platters of tamales to steaks and crepes. Again, some of it is terrific and some of it not-so. I'll cover the two we ate at - best to do some research on the rest.
If nothing else, park the car, stretch your legs, find a nice cold margarita and enjoy the sunshine!
Reference the website for list of shops, restaurants and galleries, maps, directions, etc.
Old Town is as you would guess Albuquerque's oldest neighborhood. It's a must see for the first time visitor. It's filled with shops, boutiques, galleries and artist studios. The plazas are beautiful and have the southwest feel, which is what you come to New Mexico looking for. Check out the San Felipe de Neri Church and stroll around. It's a great way to spend an afternoon.
Albuquerque was founded in 1706. The Rio Grande River used to flow near where Old Town is today. The site where Old Town of Albuquerque is today used to flood quite often, much to the annoyance and burden of the folk living here. For a time, it was on the "wrong side of the tracks". Disreputable and for lowlifes and ladies of the evening. Then sometime in the middle of the 1950's, it underwent a "puebloization" and remodeling and construction began and brought the buildings a much needed facelift. Decades later it's still a favorite place for tourists. There's lot of little shops around, good restaurants with authentic Mexican food (yum!) and a plaza where there's live music now and then. I suggest going in the autumn, when the leaves are falling and everything seems more alive with the flavor of the season.
San Felipe de Neri is the oldest continuous parish in New Mexico, the 2nd oldest church in New Mexico, and the 3rd oldes in the U.S.
See my traveloge for more details
Old Town is a vibrant shopping area. Mostly Hispanic crafts, food, clothing, and gifts. Plenty to see and due. Surrounding the Plaza is the oldest part of the community, dating back to 1706. Here, you'll find San Felipe de Neri, the third oldest church in the U.S. (St. Augustine, FL, then Mission San Miguel (Santa Fe), New Mexico) and then San Felipe. This is the oldest continous parish in New Mexico, probably 2nd to St. Augustine.
Very quaint center with restaurants, jewelry stores, art galleries and specialty shops. The decor is bright colors with chili peppers and cacti. Definitely, have some New Mexico cuisine because it is amazingly flavorful.