5 Facts You’ll Love About San Miguel Mission in Santa Fe, NM


No one knows exactly when the Native Americans settled in the area now known as Santa Fe. However, we do know that Santa Fe’s rich history officially dates all the way back to 1607 when it was first founded as a city. Just three years later, the oldest church in the United States was created. The San Miguel Mission in Santa Fe, NM, is a landmark with visiting during your stay at El Farolito!

Are you looking for other historic spots to visit like the San Miguel Mission in Santa Fe, NM? Our complimentary Vacation Guide can help! We know that planning a trip can be challenging, so we created a free guide filled with handpicked, local recommendations to save you from hours of research. It has helped countless travelers plan their vacation, so get your copy today!

5 Facts You’ll Love About San Miguel Mission in Santa Fe, NM

1. It’s the oldest church in the United States.

Although there is no physical documentation of the San Miguel Mission in Santa Fe, NM, until 1628, oral tradition says that it dates all the way back to 1610! This makes it older than any other church in the United States. Even though it is hundreds of years old, the original adobe walls are still mostly intact. Reaching back even farther into the past, the bell in the church of the San Miguel Mission is from the 1300s!

2. It’s built above an ancient kiva.

The church has been restored several times over the past 400 years. The original church, the Hermita de San Miguel, was built on an ancient sacred place, known as a kiva, of the Analco Native American tribe. The Hermita de San Miguel was thought to be constructed by the Tlaxcalan Indians, who traveled from Mexico in 1598.

3. It has incredible architecture.

The history of the San Miguel Mission in Santa Fe, NM, is rooted in religion, but architecture played a key part in its creation. You’ll see the cultures of both Spanish settlers and Native American inhabitants represented. The cathedral blends ornate details with a pleasant rustic atmosphere. The chapel is one of the best existing examples of adobe architecture in Santa Fe, though it is not the original. The original chapel was rebuilt in 1710 after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 and then later in 1887 after the top two stories fell.

4. The religious art is some of the best in the area.

When you enter the San Miguel Mission in Santa Fe, NM, you’ll be surrounded by incredible religious art. The reredos, or wooden altar screen, is one of the oldest in New Mexico. The twisted Solomonic columns on either side are thought to be the very first examples in New Mexico. The artwork centerpiece is the statue of San Miguel, which was carved in Mexico around 1700 and brought to Santa Fe by Franciscan Friars. Above this statue is a painting of Christ that was rediscovered behind the altar screen in 1955 but dates back to the mid-1700s. Another painting of St. Michael the Archangel also dates back to the mid-1700s, created by early cartographer and artist Bernardo Miera y Pacheco. Several other pieces of rare artwork exist within the chapel, including four oval paintings that originated in Colonial Mexico. From inscriptions to intricacies, other artistic details exist within the chapel and are worth keeping an eye out for.

5. Its legacy continues.

Perhaps one of the most interesting facts about the San Miguel Mission in Santa Fe, NM, is that its legacy continues even after hundreds of years. Mass is offered at the chapel on Sundays and accompanying Vespers and Gregorian chants are performed every third Sunday of the month. The chapel is open most of the week for prayer and visitation.

Where to Stay in Santa Fe

After your visit to the San Miguel Mission in Santa Fe, NM, come back and relax at El Farolito. Located in the heart of the city, our bed and breakfast features adobe architecture and homey touches. You’ll love our traditional decor and luxurious amenities including a delicious breakfast each morning. Browse through our cozy accommodations, then book your stay today!

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