Western Trips

Western Trips

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The History of New Mexico / Galisteo Church

Located just a short drive south of Santa Fe New Mexico is a beautiful old mission church which traces it's roots back to the 1500's. This is the church of  Iglesia Nuestra Señora de los Remedios (The Church of Our Lady of the Remedies). The church is located in Galisteo New Mexico. The village was at one time the pueblo dwelling of the Tano Indians. This far predates the Spanish colonization of the area. Coronado's first explorations were in 1540. According to galisteoarcheology.org, the first historical record of the Galisteo pueblos was furnished by Pedro Castaneda of the Coronado expedition in 1541. The Tano Indians had a bustling multi-storied pueblo settlement. In fact, the Galisteo Basin was a thriving trade route for both the pueblo Indians and later for the Spaniards. Before the Spaniards stepped foot into Galisteo Basin, it was inhabited by about a dozen tribes and one thousand Indians. Where the village of Galisteo is located today was a 1600's Spanish land grant. The Galisteo Basin today is also one of the best known archeological sites in the United States. To the northeast lies the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and to the southwest are the Sandia Mountains which are to the immediate east of Albuquerque.

iglesia nuestra senora de los remedios
Iglesia Nuestra Senora de los remedios
The church at this site today, Iglesia Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, shown in the photos was originally constructed in 1884. It was a reconstruction of the post Spanish reconquest church built on this site. According to the New Mexico state historian, the village of Galisteo was founded about the same time as Santa Fe, perhaps just a few years later circa 1612. Another interesting historical note from the state historian is that the pueblo Indians around Galisteo actually warned the Spanish governor of Nuevo Mexico of the planned Pueblo Revolt of 1680 on the eve of the violent uprising. When Diego de Vargas explored the Galisteo Basin upon the Spaniards return in 1692, he found that virtually all of the missions in the Galisteo basin were abandoned. The church in Galisteo was in bad repair and just about ready to collapse when a rebuilding project was undertaken. In 1706 the church rebuilding was completed and about 150 families were settled in the pueblo. The new church had one nave as opposed to the three the old mission had. Something apparently affected this particular mission as opposed to the majority. By the end of the 1700's, most church missions in Nuevo Mexico were doing quite well.

galisteo new mexico
Galisteo New Mexico church
By the year 1796, the Galisteo church was virtually abandoned again. Most of this was reportedly due to the harsh drought conditions in the basin that made it almost impossible to grow crops, raise cattle and survive there. Today, the Galisteo Basin is a preserve of high desert land. Efforts have been and are made to conserve and restore the land. Visiting the historic old churches and missions in New Mexico is always interesting.

The Galisteo Basin today is one of the best known archeological sites in the United States. To the northeast lies the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and to the southwest are the Sandia Mountains which are to the immediate east of Albuquerque. The church at this site today, Iglesia Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, shown in the photos was originally constructed in 1884. It was a reconstruction of the post Spanish reconquest church built on this site. According to the New Mexico state historian, the village of Galisteo was founded about the same time as Santa Fe, perhaps just a few years later circa 1612.

The Iglesia Nuestra Señora de los Remedios Church location is also adjacent to some very fun side trips south of Santa Fe proper. The Turquoise Trail is just to the south and west of Galisteo and features several historic mining towns which are now unique art gallery and entertainment venues. These include the towns of Madrid, Golden and Cerrillos. A few miles to the north and east is Lamy New Mexico which is the scenic stop for Amtrak's Southwest Chief which serves Santa Fe.

You may also want to see the historic mission in Old Town Albuquerque.

(Photos from author's private collection)

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