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Albuquerque Innsights

A local innkeeper knows New Mexico secrets and tells anyone who will listen.

Historic Albuquerque Churches

Santa Cruz Capilla, also known as Los Tomases Chapel

Albuquerque and its surrounding areas are full of many historic buildings, but not many are older, (that are still in use), than these historic churches of Albuquerque. Many of them reside near our Albuquerque B&B and are interesting as they mark the center of many of Albuquerque’s very first neighborhoods. All of them are here in the North Valley, because the first settlements were along the flood plain of the Rio Grande. The river was the only source of water.

Church of the Nazarene on Apache Street

Albuquerque was formally established in 1706, and we just celebrated our Tricentennial in 2006, but many families established themselves here in the valley before that date. Some families that had settled in were driven out in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, when all the Spanish settlers along with the Roman Catholic priests and friars were driven down to El Paso and beyond by the united and justifiably irritated Pueblo tribes.

Los Candelarias Church

Los Candelarias Chapel-San Antonio Capilla, on Candelaria Blvd. NW

The Los Griegos Church, Our Lady of Guadalupe, is now a private residence and a new church was built to take its place a few blocks away.

While the church was the target, many settlers were killed and others just never returned. However, the pioneer spirit prevailed because the King wanted his settlements, the Viceroy of New Spain ordered it, the native people allowed it, and so the Spanish drifted back into the territory with a whole new attitude in the early 1700’s.

Photographs shown here are all in the earliest neighborhoods of Albuquerque’s North Valley. In the early days of its settlement, Old Town Albuquerque was the center of a simple community of Spanish settlers. It was also a strategic military outpost along the Camino Real, (probably as a result of the Pueblo Revolt).  The settlers spead out along the Rio Grande in the North Valley where they raised animals and farmed to support themselves and the growing number of town folk. Each of these communities was named for the first family on site and most all had a church and/or chapel, (capilla). Many of them still exist and all that exist are still in use today.

Old Los Griegos Church

Adobe mud wall of the old Los Griegos Church

I have lived in the North Valley for 31 of my 34 years out in the west. Many of the churches pictured here are places I passed by every day going to work or play. Others were a little more hidden, but I think I now have found most of them. They make for great photo ops, and most old churches do, and you may follow the Google Map I have created of Albuquerque’s Historic Churches, (link at end of post beneath photos), to get some photos of your own.

An interesting side note, my daughter is going to nursing school and I help out by taking my grandson to his pre-school on Mondays. The school is located on the campus of Duranes Elementary School  in the heart of the old Los Duranes neighborhood. We park right in front of this capilla when I take him into his classroom and the first time I saw it was the first time I took him to this school. I thought – “Wow, there’s another one!” I had passed Mision San Jose too many times to count, but this chapel was hidden.

In her book about the history of our area, Shining river, precious land: An oral history of Albuquerque’s North Valley, Kit Sargeant  tells about the other social side of our historic neighborhoods in Albuquerque besides the Churche scene – the Dance Halls, which also served as community centers and venues for wedding receptions. Several of them still exist, be it as private residences, but be assured that I will be returning to these neighborhoods to photograph the dance halls, and will put them in a future post.

Capilla de San Jose, Mision's Chapel, Los Duranes

Cross in front of Capilla de San Jose in Los Duranes


View Albuquerque’s Historic North Valley Neighborhoods in a larger map

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Sarah Dolk, Adobe Nido Bed & Breakfast
Expert on Destination Albuquerque and Central New Mexico!

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4 Responses to “Historic Albuquerque Churches”

  1. Amy says:

    My husband and I took a trip to California this summer and we past aan old church on the left side of the road that has me wondering about it. It is very old and beautiful. To me it looks like what I would think a mission would look like. I’m from Arkansas and our culture is a lot different then New Mexico. Please dont let me offen you or anyone. This church was between Albuqerque and Grants New Mexico. I have been looking all over for it on line but cant find anything. If you could help me I would be so greatful. I more then likely will never be out that way again. I am a scrapbooker and I would love to have the information for my scrapbook. Thank you Amy

    • adobenido says:

      Hi Amy…what road were you traveling on? Was it Rt 66 or Interstate 40? It may be on a pueblo, (more than likely). Let me know and I’ll try and help you find it!

  2. Tobias Gallegos says:

    Nice Photos but please stick to photos not comentary on subjects you know very little about! I am a life long resident of Los Candelarias and am very prod of the tenacity and endurance that my ancestors showed. They did not wander back into the province but retook it when the pueblos fell into disunity with their shamans and lack of leadership after the massacre.

    Tobas M Gallegos

    when all the Spanish settlers along with the Roman Catholic priests and friars were driven down to El Paso and beyond by the united and justifiably irritated Pueblo tribes.

    • adobenido says:

      Thanks Tobias. I applaud the tenacity of your ancestors.

      I’m really not ignorant of NM history, and yes…many people did wander back into the region in groups and not all at the same time. They didn’t get a newscast on CNN as to the time of departure, and many people did not return at all. They did not all march back into the region to take it back. The Pueblos continued their attacks, and attempted a second revolt.

      When DeVargas returned in 1692 he re-established many small communities. The Spanish called it a Re-Conquest, but in truth, it wasn’t until the turn of the century before the job was complete.

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