Chimayo Things to Do

  • Things to Do
    by toonsarah
  • Things to Do
    by toonsarah
  • Santo Niño Chapel
    Santo Niño Chapel
    by toonsarah

Best Rated Things to Do in Chimayo

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    Capella de Santo Niño de Atocha

    by toonsarah Written Dec 10, 2011

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    A short walk from the Santurio is another beautiful chapel – in fact, I found the interior of the Capella de Santo Niño de Atocha even more lovely than its (slightly) more famous neighbour. It holds a statue of the Christ Child (El Santo Niño de Atocha), brought here from the shrine dedicated to him in Mexico in the mid nineteenth century. As with the crucifix in the Santurio, there is a story attached to this statue, one that draws believers from all over the country, and beyond.

    The story starts in Spain in the time of the Moors. They had captured and imprisoned many men in Atocha, near Madrid. The jail did not feed the prisoners, and the caliph ordered that only children could visit and bring them food. The wives and mothers of the men prayed to Our Lady for help, and soon word spread that a small boy had been visiting and feeding the prisoners. His basket was never empty of bread, and his water gourd was always full. He was seen as the answer to the women’s prayers – the Virgin had sent her own son to help them, the Holy Child or Santo Niño.

    In 1492 Catholics drove the Moors out of Spain, and the country’s strength and power started to grow. As the Spanish started to colonise the New World, they brought their religion with them, and to the village of Plateros, Mexico, they brought worship of Our Lady of Atocha and her Holy Child. There was a statue here of the Virgin with the Holy Child in her arms, and the child was often removed and brought to help with difficult births. Over time, stories spread about the miracles he performed. It was said that he wandered the countryside at night bringing help to the imprisoned, the poor, and the sick.
    It was from this Mexican shrine that the Chimayó statue of El Santo Niño was brought, and this chapel built to house it. The statue now stands on an altar in a side chapel, wearing a pilgrim’s clothing and carrying a bread basket and a pilgrim's staff to which is tied a water gourd. Worshippers believe that as in Mexico, he leaves his shrine each night and roams the local countryside, performing miracles and wearing out his little shoes. Pilgrims therefore bring him baby shoes, and these now line the walls of his chapel, along with photos of children and prayers for his intervention on their behalf. It is all very moving, regardless of your beliefs.

    But as with the Santurio, there is also much to admire out in the main body of the church. This has been recently restored and is decorated with colourful modern wood carvings and banners. As with the Santurio, no photography is allowed inside but postcards can be bought in the gift shop.

    +Next tip!+

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    El Santuario de Chimayó

    by toonsarah Updated Dec 10, 2011

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    While you may find many of New Mexico’s beautiful churches closed, and be forced to admire only from outside, the Santuario de Chimayó is in contrast a very active and open church, whatever the time of day. Pilgrims make their way here year round, although there is a special importance attached to making the pilgrimage in Holy Week. As you make your way from the car park you will see many crosses made from twigs and attached to the fence by pilgrims and other visitors arriving in this sacred place, each cross representing a prayer. Outside the pretty church are wooden pews to accommodate the crowds that flock here for special masses on festivals. But what that draws people here is inside.

    The church was built in 1816 on the site of an earlier chapel, and on the site of a miraculous discovery, or so it is said. In 1811 a villager saw a light shining from a spot in the earth. He dug down at that spot and found a large crucifix, which he named for Our Lord of Esquipulas, also known as the “Black Christ”. A local priest, Father Sebastian Alvarez, was called and he organized a ceremony to carry the crucifix back to a church in Santa Cruz about eight miles away, where it was placed on the altar. But the next morning the crucifix was back in the spot where it had been found. The villagers tried twice more before they realised that Our Lord of Esquipulas wanted to stay in their village, and built a church to house him.

    Today the sacred spot where the crucifix was found is protected in a tiny side chapel to the left of the main altar, in the centre of which is el posito, the little well. Visitors and pilgrims can make a small donation in return for digging up some of the “holy dirt” to apply to injured limbs, parts of the body affected by illness – or even to eat (although I noted on the official literature at the church that this is discouraged). A room next to the chapel houses crutches and gifts brought by those giving thanks for healing received. And on the wall of the chapel are these lines:
    "If you are a stranger, if you are weary from the struggles in life, whether you have a handicap, whether you have a broken heart, follow the long mountain road, find a home in Chimayó."

    But although the Holy Dirt chapel is the main draw here, don’t neglect the rest of the church. Its walls are lined with reredos, the traditional brightly painted wooden screens, which were restored with the help of Santa Fe's Museum of Folk Art in 2003 and glow with rich colours. There are also several bultos, or statues of saints, including one of Santiago (St. James) on the altar. No photography is allowed inside, but the nearby gift shop has some good postcards showing the interior.

    Outside of course there is no reason not to take photos, and the little church is very photogenic, although the number of visitors may make it hard to capture it to best advantage. When we visited it was a Sunday and Mass was just starting, so we hurried our visit of the interior and then had time to take our pictures when everyone had gone in. Note that Mass is said every morning at 11.00, and at midday on Sunday. A local attending the Mass encouraged us to still enter and visit the Holy Dirt chapel, but you might prefer to come outside those times just in case parts are inaccessible.

    There is no charge for admission to the chapel, but it would be courteous to make a donation and/or to buy something in the well-stocked gift-shop.

    +Read more about the legends attached to the Santurio de Chimayó+

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    Santuario de Chimayo

    by kymbanm Written Oct 26, 2006

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    El Senor Esquipulas-still hanging around Chimayo

    Chimayo is a small town in Northern New Mexico. The first settlers came here after the Pueblo Revolt (1680-1692) for the fertile farmland. The colonists worked the land with diligence, for there was not only the chance of becoming self sufficient through their labors, but the Spanish Crown might provide them with the title of hidalgo and all provide all the perks that becoming a nobleman would entail.

    About a hundred years later, (~1810) a local friar was performing penance, and saw a light coming from the hillside. At the sight of the light, he dug a short way down and found a crucifix. Later named, Our Lord of Esquipulas, this crucifix was taken by a priest to another area. Three times the crucifix turned up missing. Three times the crucifix was found back in it's hole in Chimayo. By now, it was determined that El Senor Esquipulas didn't want to leave Chimayo, and a small chapel was built around his favorite spot. He was placed on the altar

    Photos are permitted without flash, and as long as you don't disturb the faithful.

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    El Posito

    by kymbanm Written Oct 26, 2006

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    El Posito

    Miracle healings began to occur in Chimayo, and pilgrims began to arrive in droves. Over time, the crucifix and it's healing power became overshadowed by the dirt in El Posito, the sacred sand pit. As the former home of this powerful crucifix, this miracle dirt has also been attributed with miraculous cures.

    Of course, the local native tribes and pueblos have stories of healing from this area that predate the European settlers. The water from stream and the sacred soil are still important to aboriginal healing in the region.

    It shouldn't surprise anyone who's visited New Mexico that where France has Lourdes and water .... New Mexico has Chimayo and dirt :) We are known for our dust afterall!

    El Posito is in a small anteroom next to the current church and altar. You wait for room to enter and collect some dirt for yourself, rub it on yourself, or just stare ... your choice actually.

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    Miracles Abound

    by kymbanm Written Oct 26, 2006

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    Evidence of miracles?
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    Just outside the chapel and El Posito are remnants of old lives .... crutches, canes, braces and more are on display in gratitude for the miracle cures received by their past owners. Known as the Lourdes of North America pilgrims come from all over - especially at Easter. The Easter pilgrims arrive by foot ... walking from Taos (40 miles), Santa Fe (24 miles) and other part of of the region. The walk itself is seen as a devotion to El Senor Esquipulas .. in anticipation, or in gratitude for previous miracles.

    Chimayo estimates 300,000 visitors a year ..... 30,000 of them for Easter alone. It's a bit of a zoo then, but a worthy journey.

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    El Santuario

    by lareina Written Jan 22, 2005

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    The often photographed Santuario de Chimayo

    The sanctuary and the area around it is filled with detail. The lower area (which you walk through from the overflow parking lot) has a few small shrines and the chain-link fence has been filled with crosses made from twigs. As you make your way to the sanctuary building you will pass a grotto with a statue of the Virgen that is decorated with multi-colored rosaries. The sanctuary itself has a main nave with a beautiful decorated wooden altarpiece and the side room which contains the holy dirt and offerings from the faithful. Take time to explore the offerings left behind...crutches, baby shoes, decorated pictures of saints and holy figures, hand-written notes, and inscribed pictures cover the walls in honour of those who have been healed and those who wish to be healed.

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    Chimayó: Plaza Del Cerro

    by VinceRamos Updated May 25, 2009

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    Plaza Del Cerro, Chimay��

    “Almost forgotten, overgrown with weeds and crumbling back to earth, the Plaza del Cerro seems to belong, as its name suggest, to the hills themselves. Indeed, the Plaza del Cerro is located at the very foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains below the Cerro de Chimayó—a towering hill called Tsi Mayoh in the Tewa language of the Pueblo Indians who established settlements in the region prehistorically. Tsi Mayoh, long revered as a potent landscape feature, and the other hills loom tall and imposing over the head of the valley, defining the plaza and Chimayó in both character and name."
    Don J. Usner, Sabino’s Map: Life in Chimayós Old Plaza. Museum of New Mexico Press, 1995

    The Plaza del Cerró was the center of the Spanish Colonial settlement established in Chimayó in 1740 and is enclosed by contiguous adobe buildings. Its three entrances are only wide enough to admit people on foot and animals, which made it easy to defend. It remains as one of the only surviving examples of fortified plazas in New Mexico. See photographs at http://www.foodmuseum.com/fhsitesfeaturesPlazadelCerro.html

    "Throughout the eighteenth century, persons convicted of crimes of violence were exiled to Chimayo for fixed periods of time; Chimayo being considered the eastern boundary or frontier of the Spanish settlements in the Rio Grande Valley proper" ..and also because it served the Spanish settlers in Santa Fe as a bulwark against raids made by Apaches, Utes, Comanches and Navajos.

    HISTORIC AMERICAN BUILDINGS SURVEY, PLAZA DEL CERRO (Plaza de San Buenaventura) [in Chimayo] http://lcweb2.loc.gov/pnp/habshaer/nm/nm0000/nm0035/data/nm0035.pdf
    See also Chimayó Rebellion of 1837 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revolt_of_1837_(New_Mexico)

    Map at http://www.bizwiki.com/node/10486841/print

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    Chimayó pilgrimages

    by Chimayoso Updated Apr 9, 2010
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    See New Mexico Office of the State Historian : Santuario de Chimayó http://www.newmexicohistory.org/filedetails.php?fileID=505

    There are pre-Puebloan ruins near the Santuario de Chimayó which predate the arrival of the Spanish by at least 600 years and the roads and paths to Chimayó have apparently been traveled by pilgrims since long before the Santuario was built. The area figures prominently in the indigenous Tewa/Tano cosmology as the place where the ‘Twin War Gods’ slew a giant that was threatening the people, after which fire burst out of the earth and dried a sacred spring known as Tsimayo-pokwi, leaving only mud. According to Pueblo legend, because evil had been overcome by good in this place the mud and the dust which formed after the spring evaporated became a source for great healing and was used to cure and ward off physical and spiritual illnesses, and as a result the Tewa and other native peoples would travel great distances to obtain because of its healing powers. In Spanish and the prayers of the Penitente Brotherhood the dirt within the pósito of the Santuario de Chimayó (which is thought to have been built on the site of the Tsimayo-pokwi) is referred to as ‘Santa Madre Tierra’ (Holy Mother Earth) but is also still called ‘Nam po'uare (blessed earth) in Tewa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tewa_language), which is the indigenous language of the local Pueblos.

    "Along the high road: a guide to New Mexico's high road to Taos" by Margaret M. Nava (P. 48 http://books.google.com/books?id=RaanjHrofpoC&lpg=PA48&ots=1ap9QTXrvW&dq=Tewa%20twin%20war%20gods&pg=PA48#v=onepage&q=&f=false) and “Teachings from the American earth: Indian religion and philosophy” by Dennis and Barbara Tedlock (p. 181 http://books.google.com/books?id=i_EP4K2__OkC&lpg=PA181&ots=27-s1rGaWU&dq=Tewa%20twin%20war%20gods&pg=PA181#v=onepage&q=Tewa%20twin%20war%20gods&f=false.
    See also Tano Indian Tribe History http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/tribes/pueblo/tanoindianhist.htm

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    Chimayo videos

    by Chimayoso Updated Apr 20, 2008

    http://www.santafenewmexican.com/video/
    Holy Land by Natalie Guillen
    Santa Fe New Mexican

    See also
    http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=Chimayo+&hl=en&sitesearch
    (31 Chimayo related videos as of April 2008)

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    Drive El Camino de Muerte

    by Chimayoso Updated Apr 4, 2011

    See map at http://dgrims2.unm.edu/website/EspCr06/viewer.htm

    Each of the red dots on the highway between Espanola and the village of Chimayo represents 4 to 65 vehicle collisions - a third of which were DWI 'accidents'. The newly released crash map (created by the nonprofit DWI Resource Center, the state Transportation Department and law enforcement agencies) also shows that Saturdays between 6 and 7 p.m. and between 10 and 11 p.m. Fridays are prime for crashes, also that a high number of alcohol-related crashes happen from 2 to 3 a.m. Wednesdays.

    See also http://www.freenewmexican.com/news/53541.html

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