Chimayo

Overview

Introduction

Located between Santa Fe and Taos, Chimayo is home to El Santuario del Nuestro Senor de Esquipulas. This unadorned but striking shrine was built on the site where, in 1810, villagers claimed to see a light emanating from the ground. When they investigated, they unearthed a wooden cross. Ever since, Chimayo has been a pilgrimage site where many visitors go in search of a cure. It's sometimes called the "Lourdes of America." The church has been restored, and the site is often flooded with tourists.

Whether you're seeking divine intervention or not, the small church (built in the 1810s) is interesting to look around. The main chapel has simple wooden pews and is usually full of people praying. In a side room, you'll find the faithful crouched over a hole in the floor, digging up dirt that is said to have healing powers. Dozens of crutches are in an adjacent room—ostensibly left there by those cured of their affliction. Be sure to take a walk down the hill behind the church, where hundreds of crosses fashioned from twigs and grass have been tucked into a chain-link fence. There are several shops and stands around the church that sell snacks, souvenirs and chilies in addition to religious items. During the Easter Holy Week, pilgrims walk to the sanctuary from as far away as Albuquerque.

If you follow the High Road (Route 76) out of Chimayo toward Taos, you'll pass through Truchas and Las Trampas, two settlements that date to the 1700s. Las Trampas is the site of a classic adobe church built in 1760 (you'll have no trouble spotting it from the main highway). Be sure to go inside to see the hand-carved altar and the suspended wooden candle holders. The floorboards are so warped and wavy, they may be the originals installed in the 1700s. Chimayo is 75 mi/120 km northeast of Albuquerque.

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