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The Plaza Area

Start: The plaza.

Finish: Loretto Chapel.

Time: 1 to 5 hours, depending on the length of visits to the museums and churches.

Best Times: Any morning before the afternoon heat, but after the Native American traders have spread out their wares.

1. The Plaza

This square offers a look at Santa Fe's everyday life as well as many types of architecture, ranging from the Pueblo-style Palace of the Governors to the Territorial-style row of shops and restaurants on its west side.

Facing the plaza on its north side is the:

2. Palace of the Governors

Today the flagship of the New Mexico State Museum system, the Palace of the Governors has functioned continually as a public building since it was erected in 1610 as the capitol of Nuevo Mexico. Every day, Native American artisans spread out their crafts for sale beneath its portal.

Take a Break -- Even though you're only two stops into this walking tour, you might want to fortify your strength for the rest of the walk. I recommend the carnitas (grilled meat and chile in a tortilla) or tamales from the street vendor on the plaza.

If you stopped at Lincoln and Palace avenues for a carnita, you're now in front of the:

3. Museum of Fine Arts

Located at 107 W. Palace Ave., this museum holds works by Georgia O'Keeffe and other famed 20th-century Taos and Santa Fe artists. The building is a fine example of pueblo revival-style architecture, and it's home to the renowned St. Francis Auditorium.

Virtually across the street is the:

4. Delgado House

This Victorian mansion (at 124 W. Palace Ave.) is an excellent example of local adobe construction, modified by late-19th-century architectural detail. It was built in 1890 by Felipe B. Delgado, a merchant most known for his business of running mule and ox freight trains over the Santa Fe Trail to Independence and the Camino Real to Chihuahua. The home remained in the Delgado family until 1970. It now belongs to the Historic Santa Fe Foundation.

If you continue west on Palace Avenue, you'll come to LewAllen Contemporary, where you'll find an array of paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and work in other media that may make you stop and ponder.

Nearby, you'll see a narrow lane -- Burro Alley -- jutting south toward San Francisco Street, with an interesting burro sculpture.

Head back to Palace Avenue, make your way north on Grant Avenue, and turn left on Johnson Street to the:

5. Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

Opened in 1997, this museum houses the largest collection of O'Keeffe works in the world. The 13,000-square-foot space is the only museum in the United States dedicated solely to one internationally known woman's work. You might also want to stop at the O'Keeffe Café for a creative lunch or dinner.

Head back to Grant Avenue, and continue north to 136 Griffin St., where you'll find the:

6. Oliver P. Hovey House

Constructed between 1857 and 1859 in Territorial style, this adobe (located at 136 Griffin St.) is unique because it is actually painted brick. It's not surprising that a flamboyant man like Hovey would go to the trouble to dress up a home in such a fancy style (red brick was a rare commodity in this outpost town back then), but such stunts might be what made people call him the Great Lord Hovey, when he was no lord at all.

Across the street (135 Griffin St.) is the:

7. Bergere House

Built around 1870, this house (135 Grant Ave.) hosted U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife Julia during their 1880 visit to Santa Fe.

Proceed north on Grant and turn right on Marcy. On the north side of the street is the city's new convention center.

Three blocks farther east on Marcy, through an office and restaurant district, turn left on Washington Ave. Walk a short distance to 227-237 Washington Ave., where you'll see the:

8. Padre de Gallegos House

This house was built in 1857 in the Territorial style. Padre de Gallegos was a priest who, in the eyes of newly arrived Archbishop Jean-Baptiste Lamy, kept too high a social profile and was therefore defrocked in 1852. Gallegos later represented the territory in Congress and eventually became the federal superintendent of Native American affairs.

Reverse course and turn south again on Washington Avenue, passing en route the public library.

Take a Break -- This is a good time to stop for refreshments at Anasazi Restaurant at the Inn of the Anasazi (113 Washington Ave.; tel. 505/988-3030); during the summer, you'll find a variety of drinks served on the veranda, and in the winter, the atmospheric bar inside can be quite cozy.

Leaving the Anasazi, you'll notice the entrance to the Palace of the Governors Museum Shop, across the street, a good place to purchase quality regional memorabilia. As you approach the plaza, turn left (east) on Palace Avenue. A short distance farther on your left, at 113 E. Palace Ave., is:

9. Prince Plaza

A former governor's home, this Territorial-style structure, which now houses the Shed (a great lunch or dinner spot), had huge wooden gates to keep out tribal attacks.

Next door is:

10. Sena Plaza

This city landmark offers a quiet respite from the busy streets, with its parklike patio. La Casa Sena restaurant (a great place to stop for lunch or dinner) is the primary occupant of what was once the 31-room Sena family adobe hacienda, built in 1831. The Territorial legislature met in the upper rooms of the hacienda in the 1890s.

Turn right (south) on Cathedral Place to no. 108, which is the:

11. Institute of American Indian Arts Museum

Here you'll find the most comprehensive collection of contemporary Native American art in the world.

Across the street, step through the doors of the:

12. St. Francis Cathedral

Built in Romanesque style between 1869 and 1886 by Archbishop Lamy, this is Santa Fe's grandest religious edifice. It has a famous 17th-century wooden Madonna known as Our Lady of Peace.

After leaving the cathedral, walk around the backside of the illustrious La Fonda Hotel -- south on Cathedral Place and west on Water Street -- to the intersection of the Old Santa Fe Trail. Here, in the northwest corner of the Hotel Loretto, you'll find the:

13. Loretto Chapel

This chapel is more formally known as the Chapel of Our Lady of Light. Lamy was also behind the construction of this chapel, built for the Sisters of Loretto. It is remarkable for its spiral staircase, which has no central or other visible support.

Take a Break -- By now you may be tired and hungry. I recommend heading straight back to the plaza to a small store called Five and Dime General Store (58 E. San Franciso St.; tel. 505/992-1800), where F. W. Woolworth's, the now-defunct, legendary five-and-dime store, once stood. Like Woolworth's, the store serves a cherished local delicacy called Frito pie: a bag of Fritos smothered in chile con carne, served in a plastic bag with a spoon and a napkin.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.