The allure of a spiritual journey brings the quiet streets of El Potrero to life each Holy Week. Centuries of tradition guide the footsteps and nurture the spirit of pilgrims who trek to the Santuario de Chimayó every year. The sacred journey has a way of tuning you in to the most important things in life.
The streets of the community of El Potrero, located near Chimayó, fill every Holy Week with the footsteps of the faithful making their journey to the Santuario de Chimayó. Drawing as many as 40,000 pilgrims every year, the journey to the Santuario is one of the most important pilgrimages in the world. The Santuario itself is modest yet elegant, as are the people who have made their spiritual journey to it for centuries. The little church is famed around the world for the healing power of the dirt found beneath the chapel.
Legend has it in 1810 a local friar witnessed light shining from a hillside and discovered that a crucifix buried in the dirt was the source of the light. After taking the crucifix to a neighboring town, on three separate occasions it went missing, only to be found again in its original location. It was decided that the crucifix was to stay in El Potrero, and the chapel was built there. Miraculous healings have been attributed to the dirt where the crucifix was found over centuries and to this day visitors swear by its powers.
To learn more about the fascinating history of the little chapel, the surrounding area and its Spanish influence, pay a visit to the Chimayó Museum; a humble museum with a big story to tell. The local patrons who care for the museum and preserve the past of the community are a wealth of knowledge and are eager to share it with visitors.
Another gem well worth a visit is the El Potrero Trading Post, which is filled with local treasures. The heavenly smells wafting through the post hint at an abundant variety of chile to choose from; ground, crushed, sundried, red, green, heritage and standard. The trading post also features Milagros, small metal religious charms. The Spanish word milagro means “miracle.” These charms are often used as offerings, nailed or pinned to sacred objects and also act as good luck charms for pilgrims.
Ortega’s Weaving Shop spans eight generations in the Chimayó weaving tradition. (Photo courtesy of Santa Fe County)
The Chimayó community is thriving with artists and craftspeople whose skills were inherited from past generations. The weavings found in Chimayó are especially one-of-a-kind and range from wool rugs, blankets and pillows to handbags, vests and much more. Ortega’s Weaving Shop is the essence of exquisite Chimayó weaving that has been a family tradition for eight generations. The scent of the natural fibers, the creaking of the hardwood floor and the flawlessly crafted weavings make Ortega’s an excellent stop. You might even get lucky and catch one of the weavers working on their loom.
For a taste of the local culture, Gabriel’s is an excellent stop on the drive back from Chimayó. With its colorful courtyard tables, mouthwatering fajitas, and tableside guacamole with just enough jalapeño to give it a little kick, Gabriel’s is considered one of the best Mexican and Southwestern restaurants in New Mexico. For dessert, don’t pass up the sopapillas; fluffy pillows of goodness drizzled with a little (or a lot) of honey.
Visiting Chimayó and the surrounding area this year will allow you to take in some of the area’s most beautiful scenery and historical sites. Chimayó and the surrounding area is just a short drive (38 minutes to be exact) away from Santa Fe. Plan your Santa Fe getaway now by ordering the 2017 Santa Fe Travel Guide. There’s always deals and specials happening so make sure to check these out.