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Hispanic CultureEarly Spanish explorers planted the seeds of culture in a place now known as Santa Fe in 1607. These seeds took root and flowered into the Hispanic way of life that continues to thrive today.
A people of great faith, the early Spanish settlers arrived in the region with scores of Catholic priests. The gloriously well-preserved adobe mission churches that dot the Santa Fe landscape, the Hispanic villages and the Indian Pueblos, are a testament to the strong role of religion in the lives of Hispanics both past and present.
Just as the Spanish created houses of worship from an adobe mix of mud and straw, they built villages and towns in the same architectural fashion. The energy-efficient earthen structures fit into their high desert home in every way - keeping the heat in during the winter and out in the summer - while the low-slung, flat-roofed buildings blended naturally into the land.
Although adobe construction techniques were used by Native Americans in the area long before the Spanish arrived, the Spaniards introduced their own innovative architectural elements to their new Indian neighbors. The formed mud-brick corner kiva fireplace replaced the smoke hole in the roof, and the horno - a beehive-shaped outdoor oven of Moorish origin - became a common cooking tool.
Through the years, as Santa Fe has gained greater cachet in the public eye, the heart of the city's Hispanic culture has remained very much the same. As visitors flock to the city for a look at the oldest church, or try the latest in nouvelle Southwest cuisine, Hispanic families gather in church or at the kitchen table to share a blessing or a bowl of chile and beans.
Of course, Hispanics in Santa Fe are more than accomplished artists. They are also doctors, teachers, lawyers, politicians, priests, soldiers and writers, too.
Like their Spanish ancestors who settled their town as La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asis (the Royal City of the Holy Faith of St. Francis), Hispanics young and old look forward to the future of Santa Fe. At the same time, they continue to honor their history and traditions, never forgetting the important cultural legacy of the past.
To learn more, visit our sections on Santa Fe history and Hispanic arts.