San Felipe de Neri Church, founded in 1706, was originally located near where Plaza Don Luis stands today. In 1793, the present church was built. San Falipe de Neri presently has 800 families registered and has been in continuous use for almost 300 years. It is on both the National and State Register for Historical Properties.
The Church is open to the public daily. Masses: Sat. 5:30 pm; Sun. 7:00am, 8:30 am (in Spanish), & 10:15 am. Church Museum (located in back patio) is open Mon-Sat. 10-4. Donations accepted.
Although the interior won't necessarily "wow" you a stop at this historic church is a must, especially since it is located in 'Old Town'.
Most former Spanish towns have a central plaza with a church. Albuquerque is no exception. Old Town is touristy but still should be visited. Besides the church, many shops, art galleries and hidden patios, several of Albuquerque's museums are in the same area, including the art museum, the natural history museum (with its dinosaur exhibits), the science museum (Explora!) and even a rattlesnake museum. The middle two are great for kids. My favorite restaurant in the area is Seasons Rotisserie and Grill, which is north of Old Town Plaza across Mountain Road. It is also only about half a mile to the Botanical Garden and Aquarium. Don't miss the kaleidoscope shop (see below).
La Casita de Kaleidoscopes should not be missed. It is in the Patio Market, a small courtyard southeast of the Plaza that many people don't find. Tell Lesley that AlbuqRay sent you. Warning to men though...don't let your significant other find the jewelry store next door, Christian Wolf Gallery (it's too late for me).
Constructed in 1793, the Church of San Felipe de Neri is still a working Catholic parish. It is possible to attend church services here on Sundays and on Wednesday evenings. One of these years, I'd like to attend their Christmas Eve Midnight Mass - very beautiful with the entire Plaza decorated with the traditional lumarias (also known as farolitos) - lined-up paper bags with a lighted candle inside illuminating the outside of the bag. The church is open to the public from 8 in the morning until dusk, except during special events.
Provincial Governor Cuervo y Valdez named the villa in honor of the Viceroy of New Spain, the Duke of Alburquerque. In the early 1800s, the first "r" was dropped from the official spelling. 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 on the north side. You can walk inside the church; there is also a small museum with relics dating from the 17th century.
OPEN: church - 8AM until dusk; museum - 1-4
Old Town was once an area of working artists' studios. There are now about 25 galleries, many housed in older studios along the patios east of San Felipe Road (northeast of the church). These patios are also heavily shaded by trees - a definite plus in Albuquerque which averages around 300 days of sunshine per year. There are also numerous wrought-iron benches on which you can rest after those weary hours of sightseeing and shopping.
My favorite time to visit Old Town is on Sunday afternoons in the Spring or Fall. Even in summer, the crowds are fairly light as twilight falls. It's very pleasant to enjoy a drink at one of the sidewalk cafes that line San Felipe Road north of the Plaza.
Although the Plaza can be somewhat crowded with tourists, especially during the summer, it is still possible to find many out-of-the-way spots for some quiet reflection. Once you start exploring the alleys, you can find many spots to practice your photography!
When 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.
Old Town is a charming Historic Village in the middle of a metropolitan area. Old Town Albuquerque is a must visit; 18th century architecture with narrow brick paths, world famous artwork, fine jewelry, delicious food and rare specialty shops in a mix of Spanish, Native American and Anglo heritages.
With more than 150 shops & galleries, housed in historic adobe buildings, it's great stop for shopper's and photographer's! Old Town Albuquerque has lots of little nooks and crannies where you will find quaint shops in the true southwestern style....all located within a ten minute walk from each other. You can ride in a horse drawn carriage, there's museums to view, great restaurants to eat at, art galleries, jewelry & trading posts, specialty shops............if you're looking for something specific...Old Town is bound to have it!
The website below has lots of information on Old Town, the various shops & restaurants, lodging, transportation, etc.
Stop at the Old Broad's Coffee House in the Patio Market if you need coffee or ice cream. Sit in the courtyard and listen to local bands that sometimes play there.
Adobe buildings, many refurbished in the Pueblo Revival style of architecture in the 1950s, focus around the tree-shaded Old Town Plaza, created in 1780.
A maze of cobbled walkways lead to hidden patios and gardens where many of Old Town's 150 art galleries and shops are located.
Native American artisans (Pueblo and Navajo) sell jewelry and other crafts under the portico of La Placita Dining Rooms, on the east side of Old Town Plaza.