Second of a series
When we get here, many Hispanics feel like we have been here before. It’s a strange feeling when you know you are visiting Old Town Albuquerque for the first time. But immediately you recognize the reason for your delightfully strong emotions: You are in a Spanish colonial city!
When you get to the Old Town Plaza, and you see a square block with a gazebo in the center, lined by four streets of shops, restaurants, street vendors, government offices and a Catholic church, you know you have arrived.
If you have Spanish blood, you feel it!
You may be so moved, as I was, that you find the need to look for a bench to sit on, just to think about another plaza you once knew and loved dearly.
For me, this was all very familiar. I was born in one of those towns, baptized in one of those churches, and grew up playing around one of those "glorietas" (a gazebo without a roof), in La Salud, Cuba.
On summer weekends the Plaza's gorgeous gazebo becomes the stage for local bands, presented by the city and representing a wide variety of music genres in English and Spanish.
Although it was built more than three centuries ago, Old Town, with its picturesque combination of adobe Pueblo and Spanish colonial architecture, is said to still resemble the original pueblo. The city, the plaza and the church — San Felipe de Neri — all began almost simultaneously, in 1706, when New Mexico was part of New Spain.
Yet now many of the homes here have been turned into galleries, museums, restaurants and dozens of small shops selling Native American and Hispanic handicrafts. Southwestern artwork — paintings, sculpture, jewelry, garments, weaving, pottery -- is everywhere!
El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, the 1,600-mile Royal Road of the Interior, connecting Mexico City with Santa Fe, once passed through Albuquerque. In fact, it still does! Now it is also known as I-25 and is recognized as a National Historic Trail — the first Euro-American trade route in the United States!
But did you know that there is town called Alburquerque (with an additional "r") in Spain? Did you know that this biggest city in New Mexico was named after the duke from that Spanish town?
I think that should be my next article. Stay tuned.
To read other parts of this ongoing series, click: EXPLORING NEW MEXICO