A Closer Look at the Santa Fe Plaza – Santa Fe, New Mexico

The Santa Fe Plaza, part of the Santa Fe Historic District, is the heart of Santa Fe, New Mexico. It has been the social, political, commercial, and public center of Santa Fe since it was established in 1610 by Don Pedro de Peralta.

Santa Fe Plaza History

The original plaza was part of a fort with a large wall for defense. Inside the fort were barracks, the Governor’s palace, a chapel, a prison, and residences. Over the years the wall disappeared and large homes for officers and officials rose up. The famed Santa Fe Trail opened in 1822 with the Santa Fe Plaza as the ending point.

Today the Santa Fe Plaza is popular for tourists who are interested in Spanish, Native American, and Mexican cultures. Throughout the Plaza one can find native jewelry, art, designs, music, and dances. Many annual events are held at the Santa Fe Plaza including Fiestas de Santa Fe, the Spanish Market, the Santa Fe Bandstand, and the Santa Fe Indian Market.

Santa Fe Plaza Monument

The Santa Fe Plaza obelisk monument was erected in 1868 to honor Federal Army lives that were lost during battles in the early 1860s. The obelisk was damaged during protests in 2020 and there is growing support among citizens and local officials to remove it.

Santa Fe Historic Recognition and Preservation

The Santa Fe Plaza is a National Historic Landmark and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Palace of the Governors is recognized as the oldest continually occupied building in the United States.

In 1957, the Santa Fe Plaza was protected as part of the established “Santa Fe Historic District” in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Bringing More Tourists to the Plaza

The city of Santa Fe is consistently looking for ways to bring more people to the Santa Fe Plaza. City officials and planners have held forums and brainstorming sessions and even created a resolution to designate a staff team to:

“…bring forward additional recommendations to the Governing Body that would:
(a) Enhance the experience of the Plaza for residents and visitors;
(b) Increase economic development and public safety in the Plaza area;
(c) Provide additional parking opportunities in the Plaza area, if necessary; and
(d) Ultimately bring people to the Plaza.”
Several years ago the City of Santa Fe conducted a poll of Plaza ideas to see which were most popular. Here were the top 7 ideas:

Top 7 Ideas to Bring More People to the Santa Fe Plaza

  1. International Food Market on Burro Alley.
  2. Dinner on the Plaza (each one hosted by a different Santa Fe Restaurant with proceeds going to charity)
  3. Mariachi Dances
  4. Talent/Music/Dance Competitions
  5. Cruise Nights on the Plaza
  6. A web app that shows the availability of parking near the Plaza.
  7. Concrete chess tables (permanent) for people to play chess.


One of the biggest complaints from tourists at the Santa Fe Plaza for years was that there were no bathrooms. The number one question asked at the Santa Fe Plaza Information Booth has consistently been, “where is the nearest restroom?”

Finally, in 2019, the New Mexico legislature approved $550,000 to build restrooms with 22 stalls and a family restroom. Soon the Plaza’s #1 issue will be solved.

So what makes the Santa Fe Plaza so appealing to tourists and locals alike? The following videos can help answer that question:

Santa Fe Plaza Videos



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