Santa Fe, founded in 1610 by then-governor Pedro de Peralta, serves as the Capitol of the State of New Mexico (which became a part of the U.S. in 1848). In Spanish, Santa Fe means “holy faith.” The long version of the city name is “La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asis” which means “The Royal Town of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi.”
Quite unlike any other city in the United States, Santa Fe's deep, rich cultural history gives it its distinctive flavor. Home to many historic structures and century-old traditions, Santa Fe is a blend of both history and modern innovation. From the San Miguel Chapel (pictured), originally built around 1610 and known as the oldest church in the United States, to the dynamic SITE Santa Fe, a contemporary museum exhibiting modern cutting edge art, Santa Fe offers a broad spectrum of architectural styles, cultural events and historical influences.
Santa Fe residents enjoy warm summer days, cool summer nights, low humidity, and an average of 300 days a year of sunshine. The appeal of Santa Fe, however, goes beyond its desirable weather and incredibly colorful sunsets. The appeal is in the history, culture, diversity, arts, and style. It's an incredibly unique place to visit and to live earning the nickname, “The City Different.”
So what makes Santa Fe "The City Different"?
Santa Fe is recognized as one of the leading cities for arts in the world. Art galleries, art markets, art festivals, and immersive art experiences are everywhere in Santa Fe.
Did you know that there are nearly 300 art galleries in Santa Fe? The famed Canyon Road alone has about 100 art galleries. And these galleries do not just serve locals and visitors. Major art collectors have relationships with many art galleries and artists in Santa Fe.
The collection of Santa Fe art, paintings, sculptures, etc. is remarkably diverse. A small sampling of the types of art includes Native American, performance, abstract, expressionist, modern, contemporary, figurative, western, and more. Virtually every form of art exists in Santa Fe.
“Santa Fe is home to a constant buzz of artistic energy, with 250+ art galleries, several major art museums and a large population of full-time artists-in-residence.”
~ Creative Vitality Suite, The Top 30 Creative Small Cities (Santa Fe #1)
In 2005, Santa Fe became the first city designated by UNESCO as a “creative city.” This was quite the designation considering that more than 250 cities worldwide now appear on that list. Santa Fe has consistently been recognized for its rich culture, dedication to the arts, and creative artists. More than 10% of people with jobs in Santa Fe are employed in art-related services and industries.
For years Santa Fe has invested in small business development aimed at creative industries and has seen a strong growth rate as a result.
In addition to the amazing galleries, artistic creations, and productions a great way to experience the creativity of Santa Fe is through the immersive Meow Wolf. Meow Wolf’s House of the Eternal Return is described as “a mind-bending, interactive, explorable art experience for people of all ages in Santa Fe, New Mexico.”
“Santa Fe has more cultural assets per capita than any other city in the United States.”
~ The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida
Santa Fe’s rich history and culture run deep:
Santa Fe has a strong diversity of people, artists, native tribes, festivals, galleries, museums, food, and experiences.
“Settled by Spain and heavily influenced by its years as a Mexican city, Santa Fe is a unique blend of Native American, Spanish, Mexican, and Anglo-Saxon cultures. It is an important Southwest cultural center.”
~ New World Encyclopedia, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Every year Santa Fe wins dozens of national and world awards, mostly for being one of the best cities to visit or live. Often cited are the diversity, culture, arts, weather, rich history, festivals, historic structures, and environment of Santa Fe as to what makes it an appealing place to live and visit.
See this post for more on awards and accolades received by Santa Fe.
“Earthy, arty Santa Fe continues to enchant readers with ‘the views of the mountains, the culture, the shopping, the restaurants, the wineries,’ as one reader put it. You can admire centuries-old adobe architecture, browse dozens of galleries, and indulge in outdoor adventure — all in one visit.”
~ Travel + Leisure, 2020 Top 15 Cities (Santa Fe was #3
The Santa Fe music and opera scene is second to none in the United States. Except for 2020 (Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic), the Santa Fe Opera has presented top operas, including many world premieres, every summer since July 1957. And the venue is incredible.
As the Santa Fe Opera describes it:
Vistas beckon from every side. There are the rugged mountains to the east, the far reaches opening up to the north, the rolling hills to the south, the limitless sunset horizon to the west.
The house itself is a point of visual and architectural wonder, an aria given shape under the overarching sky. Every part directs our attention toward the stage, where the disciplines of music and stagecraft at the highest level combine to challenge the notion of what is possible on the opera stage.
“The Santa Fe scene is more about live music than clubbing. The city has a vibrant and diverse music menu that ranges from singer-songwriters, acoustic bands, blues and jazz to Flamenco, rock and country with a south-western flair.”
~ World Travel Guide, Santa Fe Night Life
These quotes and video further reveal what else makes Santa Fe so special…
“Fine food is one of Santa Fe’s attractions. It is the primary destination for creative chefs…” – Steve Cohen, The Cultural Critic
“Santa Fe is not only the art hub of the Southwest, but also—with more than 250 galleries turning out shows year-round—the third-largest art market in the U.S. (after New York and Los Angeles).” – Sunset Magazine, Readers’ Choice 2019 Travel Awards
“The Santa Fe Opera House is a world-renowned venue that plays host to a variety of operas each summer.” – U.S. & World News Report, Santa Fe Opera House
“With 300 miles of bike trails, an extensive wilderness trail system and five ski areas all within two hours of the historic downtown area, Santa Fe has plenty to offer its outdoorsy inhabitants.” – MarketWatch, Annette Benedetti, The best little cities to live if you love the outdoors.
“Santa Fe acts as both New Mexico’s political and creative capital: Wander its wide streets, flanked by adobe houses, and you’ll begin to see why artists like Georgia O’Keeffe were so inspired by this eclectic, historic town.” – Conde Nast Traveler, 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards: Best Cities in the U.S. (Santa Fe, #2)
85,000 people call Santa Fe “home” and for good reason. Santa Fe is “The City Different” in “The Land of Enchantment” and creative, diverse, and artistic people are drawn here, as well as outdoor enthusiasts, foodies, retirees and second home, part-time residents. If you're planning to call Santa Fe your home, contact Darlene Streit at 505.920.8001 / [email protected]. She can help make that dream a reality with unsurpassed personal service and a deep knowledge of Santa Fe and all its neighborhoods.
This New York Times video does a great job of showing why people are drawn to Santa Fe: 36 Hours in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Click to watch now.
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