211 Old Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe, NM 87501
EXPLORE SANTA FE
There are many unforgettable things to do in Santa Fe: explore its history, learn about its culture, shop world-renowned art markets and galleries. Discover the art, the history, the cuisine and the landscapes that made Santa Fe #3 City in the U.S. 2020 Travel + Leisure World's Best Awards. Learn more below.
Santa Fe's Canyon Road is home to more than 100 galleries, boutiques and restaurants in one magical half mile. Stroll along this picturesque road for a day of Santa Fe outdoor activities, fine art, antiques, sculptures - and unparalleled shopping. Learn more below.
Go inside the history and culture of Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico with any one of an array of guided tours and Santa Fe outdoor activities lead by our partner Heritage Inspirations, see New Mexico from above with a hot air balloon ride of from the water with a whitewater adventure or river float. Learn more below.
Santa Fe is a great place to get active. Enjoy our clear mountain air while cruising bike trails in the city or hiking trails in the nearby mountains. There are five golf courses in the area, and opportunities for Santa Fe outdoor activities such as rock climbing and whitewater rafting. Regardless of how you choose to spend your time in Santa Fe you will return home rich in memories of this unique “City Different.” Learn more below.
A Santa Fe Icon
Next door to the hotel is the famous Loretto Chapel. Steeped in mystery and lore the Loretto Chapel is a Santa Fe icon and a must-see attraction for visitors. Independently owned and operated, the chapel is available for weddings, receptions and other events. Learn more below.
It was in the year 1610 that the Spanish founded a town that is now known as Santa Fe, the capital of the state of New Mexico. Santa Fe was originally called the Royal City of the Holy Faith of St. Francis of Assisi or, as it was named in Spanish, La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Assisi. It was occupied by Native Americans, Mexicans, and Spanish and was under Spanish control until a war which placed this area under the rule of the New Republic of Mexico for 25 years.
The history of the Loretto Chapel began when Bishop Jean Baptisite Lamy was appointed by the Church to the New Mexico Territory in 1850. Bishop Lamy, seeking to spread the faith and bring an educational system to this new territory, began a letter-writing plea for priests, brothers, and nuns to preach and teach. In one of his letters he is said to have written, "I have 6000 Catholics and 300 Americans." The first acceptance of his general plea was from the Sisters of Loretto.
In 1852 the Sisters of Loretto responded to Lamy's pleas by sending seven sisters who agreed to make this arduous journey to Santa Fe. Their trek was through St. Louis, then up the river to Independence, MO. This small group was beset by a cholera epidemic, the Mother Superior died, and another nun was too ill to continue the journey and returned to Kentucky. An additional story continues that they traveled by wagon through bad weather.
The Sisters arrived in Santa Fe in 1852 and opened the Academy of Our Lady of Light (Loretto) in 1853. The school was soon founded and grew from very small beginnings to a school of around 300 students, despite the challenges of the territory (smallpox, tuberculosis, leaky mud roofs, and even a brush with the rowdy Confederate Texans during the Civil War). The campus covered a square block with 10 buildings. Through tuitions for the girls' schooling, donations, and from the sister's own inheritances from their families, they built their school and chapel.
Jean Baptiste Lamy brought architect Antoine Mouly and his son, Projectus Mouly, from Paris, France to Santa Fe to be architect - builders for what is now St. Francis Cathedral. It required ten years to build. During the first period of construction, and as an apparent afterthought, Archbishop Lamy advised and encouraged the sisters to utilize the father and son to design and build their dream chapel. The older Mouly had been involved in the renovation of Sainte Chapelle, in Paris, in the early 1800's. Mouly was encouraged to fashion the Loretto Chapel after the Sainte Chapelle. It was the favorite chapel of the archbishop from his early days in Paris, France. It is reported that the sisters pooled their own inheritances to raise the $30,000 required to build this beautiful Gothic chapel. It was decided that the school needed a chapel. Property was purchased and in 1873 work began on the Loretto Chapel.
Undoubtedly influenced by the French clergy in Santa Fe, the Gothic Revival-style chapel was patterned after King Louis IX's Sainte-Chapelle in Paris; a striking contrast to the adobe churches already in the area. Stone for the Chapel was quarried from locations around Santa Fe including Cerro Colorado, about 20 miles from Santa Fe near the town of Lamy. The sandstone for the walls and the porous volcanic stone used for the ceiling were hauled to town by wagon. The ornate stained glass in the Loretto Chapel also made part of its journey to Santa Fe via wagon. Purchased in 1876 from the DuBois Studio in Paris, the glass was first sent from Paris to New Orleans by sailing ship and then by paddle boat to St. Louis, MO. where it was taken by covered wagon over the Old Santa Fe Trail to the Chapel. The Chapel was completed in 1878 and has since seen many additions and renovations such as the introduction of the Stations of the Cross, the Gothic altar and the frescos during the 1890s.
The Miraculous Staircase, which legend says was constructed or inspired by St. Joseph the Carpenter, was built sometime between 1877 and 1881. It took at least six months to build, and has two 360 degree turns with no visible means of support. It stands 20' tall and has no center support. It rests solely on its base and against the choir loft. The risers of the 33 steps are all of the same height. Made of an apparently extinct wood species, it was constructed with only square wooden pegs without glue or nails. The Loretto Academy was closed in 1968, and the property was put up for sale. At the time of sale in 1971, Our Lady of Light Chapel was informally deconsecrated as a Catholic Chapel. Loretto Chapel is now a Santa Fe wedding venue and private museum operated and maintained, in part, for the preservation of the Miraculous Staircase and the Chapel itself.
Located adjacent to the Eldorado Hotel & Spa, the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum collection features over 3,000 works with 1,149 pieces created by the famous artist. The museum also presents special exhibitions and has shown works by more than 140 other artists. Learn more below.
Relatively new to the Santa Fe museum scene, the New Mexico History Museum is located on the Santa Fe Plaza, where interactive exhibits illustrate the history of Native peoples, Spanish colonialists, New Mexico’s Mexican Period, as well as travel and commerce along the historic Santa Fe Trail. This museum includes the Palace of the Governors, the Palace Press, and the Fray Angelico Chavez History Library and Photo Archives. Learn more below.
Santa Fe is known for its art. Canyon Road in Santa Fe has over a hundred art galleries in a half mile stretch of road. Find art created by internationally acclaimed artists in both traditional and contemporary traditions. Learn more below
Experience the art of New Mexico from a fresh perspective. Exhibitions range from the richness of New Mexico's art and history, to innovations in contemporary art to exploration of art in general. Learn more below.
With 3,700 objects, the collections are the most comprehensive compilation of Spanish Colonial art of their kind. Among the various media featured are santos (painted and sculpted images of saints,) textiles, tinwork, silverwork, goldwork, ironwork, straw appliqué, ceramics, furniture, books and more. Learn more below.
Since its opening in September 1953, the Museum of International Folk Art has gained national and international recognition as an accredited museum that is home to the world's largest collection of folk art with more than 135,000 artifacts. Learn more below.
The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture is a premier repository of Native art and material culture and tells the stories of the people of the Southwest from pre-history through contemporary art. Learn more below.
The Santa Fe Opera is a world-renowned performance venue. The striking, open-air theater features performers in a wide-ranging and challenging repertoire in a remarkable setting that is recognized as one of the world's leading cultural attractions. Learn more below.
The Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian offers unique exhibitions of contemporary and historic Native American art. The museum is famous for its focus on little-known genres, and for solo shows by living Native American artists. Learn more below.
Owner & Guide
Physical Location Inside Inn and Spa at Loretto
Phone: 1-888-344-TOUR (1-888-344-8687)
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Heritage Inspirations offers half and full-day excursions, multi-day adventures, and custom-crafted itineraries. With more than twenty tours across Taos, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Las Cruces including active outdoor expeditions, specially curated walking tours, and roving glamping adventures, Heritage Inspirations has a unique and dynamic option for every traveler. As a partner of Heritage Inspirations, Heritage Hotels & Resorts provides an exclusive discount to those who stay at one of our properties in Taos, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Las Cruces before or after a tour.
Experience the hidden treasures of the City Different through a Heritage Inspirations E-Bike tour. Daily E-Bike tours and rentals are available through Inn & Spa at Loretto's tour and rental shop. Merchandise is also available to take home a piece of your journey. Learn more below.
Experience Heritage Inspiration's most popular day tour with an architectural and historical perspective of Santa Fe. Spend your Thursday or Friday morning walking Santa Fe’s Historic Eastside neighborhood, exploring the distinctive architecture this region is known for. You’ll discover the beauty that distinguishes the three styles of New Mexican architecture: Pueblo, Spanish Territorial and Northern New Mexican. Learn more below.
Take our signature Magical Heirlooms of Chimayó Day Tour where you can step back in time to a holy magical place filled with handcrafted heirloom wonders. After meeting at Hotel Chimayó, you’ll travel North via the high road through the Nambé Valley. Ascending through horse pastures, orchards and red stone canyon walls speckled with green dots of piñon and juniper, you’ll see why many movies have been filmed in this quintessential landscape. Learn more below.
As New Mexico's Premier Travel Company, we invite you to join us and take a walk in our shoes. Let us introduce you to the adventure, to the people, the art and culture, to the voices and stories and wild places. These elements combined exemplify the magic of New Mexico. Our mission is to create inspirational travel experiences that elevate your senses and compel you to an unmatched encounter with the Land of Enchantment. Storytelling is our passion. Our E-Bike Tours explore the deep-rooted historical dialogue of our state, while unveiling undiscovered destinations along the way. Our Glamping Tours take you to rugged and hard-to-reach places in style, inviting you to "go luxuriously wild". Step off the beaten path, beyond ordinary tourist routes and transcend boundaries through our ethically curated, intimate and immersive New Mexico excursions. Heritage Inspirations LLC. New Mexico's Premier Travel Company. To book now, call 1-888-344-8687 or visit www.heritageinspirations.com.