The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

#7 in Best Things To Do in Santa Fe
 picture
Chris Corrie/Tourism Santa Fe

Key Info

131 Cathedral Place

Price & Hours

Free
Hours vary, see website for details

Details

Free, Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 3.0Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

If you're an architecture buff, take some time to check out the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. Located a block east of the Santa Fe Plaza, this breathtaking Romanesque cathedral stands out among the city's adobe skyline. Constructed beginning in 1869, the cathedral's main purpose was to help bring Catholicism to the Southwest. Sitting next to the cathedral is the small adobe chapel – all that remains of a previous church that was destroyed during the 1680 Pueblo Revolt – which contains the oldest representation of the Virgin Mary in the United States.

This historical church receives plenty of praise from travelers and Santa Fe residents alike, with many suggesting that you visit in the evening when the sun is setting to see it cast a golden glow on the exterior of the structure. Visitors said you should stroll through the inside, take in the beautiful stained-glass windows and try to find a docent to help explain some of the history of the church. Tours are usually available when services are not being held.

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is open daily to the public, but visitors should check the website for a detailed schedule of religious services and holy day celebrations. Mass is typically held Monday through Saturday at 7 a.m. and 5:15 p.m., and on Sundays at 8 and 10 a.m. and noon. Entry to the cathedral and the chapel is free, but donations are welcome.

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#1 Canyon Road

If there's any doubt that Santa Fe is a prime destination for art lovers, Canyon Road quashes it. Situated just east of the Santa Fe Plaza, Canyon Road is home to a slew of art galleries selling renowned artwork from famed artists, such as Fernando Botero and cultural treasures like hand-woven Navajo rugs and Southwestern wood carvings. The area is touted as an art lover's mecca because of the variety of mediums used to highlight art. Pop into the different galleries (there are more than 100) along the street and you'll find everything from jewelry and pottery to sculptures and paintings. The street itself is also a feast for the eyes: Many of the galleries found here are housed in historic adobe buildings laced with brilliantly colored flowers, art installations are often showcased outside and the spicy odor of chile peppers wafts from the doorways of top-notch eateries like Geronimo Restaurant and Compound Restaurant.

Recent visitors said the best way to experience this arts district is simply by strolling down the street, adding that it's a wonderful way to experience art without being stuck indoors or inside a single museum. Travelers were impressed with everything from the variety of art to the pueblo architecture and said there are ample opportunities to snap photos of this vibrant site.

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