Monday, December 28, 2015

Visiting Taos Pueblo – World Heritage Site in New Mexico

Taos Pueblo is a must-see on your visit to northern New Mexico. Located just outside the main tourism area of modern Taos, it is the largest surviving multi-storied Pueblo structure in the United States. It is an amazing place and an important stop when you tour the area.

Taos Pueblo has been designated a National Historic Landmark.  Taos Pueblo is also on the United Nations World Heritage List.

History of Taos
Taos Pueblo is the northernmost of the nineteen Indian Pueblos. It is still owned by Pueblo families, some of whom live in the multi-story building, bake their bread in the hornos and farm in the valley. The Pueblo you will see on your visit was reportedly built around 1350, although the Taos people claim that they have always been settled in the valley.

When you visit New Mexico it is important to know a little history. Pay special attention to The Pueblo Revolt. The Pueblo people were mistreated by the Spanish and their spiritual practices forbidden. They collectively made the decision to revolt against the Spanish.  The Pueblo Revolt of 1680 was planned at Taos Pueblo. The revolt is an amazing story of determination and creative communication between the Pueblo peoples across New Mexico.

A runner coordinated efforts between the Pueblos who then revolted against the Spanish as a united effort. Spanish settlers fled to Santa Fe and Isleta Pueblo, one of the few Pueblos that did not participate in the revolt. The Puebloans then attacked the Governor’s Palace in Santa Fe driving the Spanish out of the city.

By the end of the century, however, the Spanish had re-conquered the Pueblos. Today, you will see certain pueblos take the step to return to their original names, giving up the Spanish names that were originally forced on them. The revolt continues in this small way.

Visiting Taos Pueblo
The Pueblo is generally open to visitors Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m and Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m, except when tribal rituals require closing the Pueblo. Late winter to early Spring the Pueblo closes for about ten weeks. The pueblo recommends that you call ahead if you’ll be visiting during this time. 505.758.1028.

Tourist Fees
Adult admission: $16 per person
Senior Rate: $14 per person
Students (11 and up, includes college with ID) $14 per person
Group Rate (8 or more Adults): $14 per person
Children 10 and under: Free

Camera Fees
Camera, cell phone and video fee may apply

You can take a self-guided walking tour with a map. Everything you will want to see, and are allowed to see, is around the main plaza.  

You can also go with a guide. Ask at the Visitor’s Building. The guides are usually available by 9 a.m. The 30 minute guided walking tours operate on a gratuity basis. No reservations are required for the tour and I highly encourage the tours as they are very informative and provide a source of income for the guides.

Taos Pueblo Things to See
I never cease to be amazed at the construction and beauty of the multi-story Pueblo buildings. You’ll recognize the architecture as artists across the United States have painted these beautiful buildings.

The beautiful San Geronimo Chapel is open to visitors and the outside is often photographed. You are not allowed to photograph the inside.

Visit the shops around the plaza. They are clearly marked. Each shop is also a part of the Pueblo building and is owned, as a home, by a family. The insides are all different. Some are just like they have always been and some have been modernized.

When you visit the shops look for items that are unique to Taos Pueblo. They are known for their micaceous pottery which has flecks of shiny mica in it. They are also known for their hide drums.

If you arrive in the morning, consider making a breakfast of one of the pastries baked in a horno oven. Freshly baked turnovers and breads are made by the locals and sold outside their homes.

Throughout the year, according to the ceremonial calendar, you may see some of the religious dances. If you happen to be at Taos Pueblo on one of these days, you will encounter a very special opportunity. Calendar of Events

Pueblo Etiquette
Taos Pueblo has rules which are typical of most pueblos. It is important to refrain from photography of people without permission. If there is a sign that tells you not to enter, respect the sign. This is a living pueblo with families residing there and ceremonial activity taking place.

There are times when the pueblo is closed and so it is always useful to call ahead.
Restrooms are at the Visitors Center so please do not ask to use facilities elsewhere.

How to Get to Taos Pueblo From Santa Fe:
The Taos Pueblo is approximately a one and a half hour drive north from central Santa Fe. Ask for directions to Highway 285. It is an absolutely beautiful drive. Follow Highway 285 for approximately 23 miles. Then turn onto Highway 68 and follow for 45 miles to the north. Highway 68 becomes Paseo del Pueblo Sur in Taos. Continue through the center of town. 1 mile from center of town, turn Right onto Veteran’s Highway and follow to the end at Taos Pueblo. Map

More Information

Photo Credit: Elizabeth R. Rose