Barrio de Analco & Canyon Road
Start: Don Gaspar Avenue and East de Vargas Street.
Finish: Any of the quaint restaurants on Canyon Road.
Time: 1 to 3 hours, depending on how long you spend in the art galleries.
Best Times: Anytime.
The Barrio de Analco, now called East de Vargas Street, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited avenues in the United States. Spanish colonists, with their Mexican and Native American servants, built homes here in the early 1600s, when Santa Fe was founded; some of the structures survive to this day.
Most of the houses you'll see as you walk east on de Vargas are private residences, not open for viewing. Even so, they are well worth looking at because of the feeling they evoke of a Santa Fe now relegated to bygone days. Most have interpretive historical plaques on their outer walls.
The first house you'll see is:
1. Tudesqui House
Dating from the early 19th century, this house (135 E. de Vargas St.), once owned by a merchant, is now recognizable for the wisteria growing over its adobe walls. The L-shaped Territorial-style residence is noted for its brick coping, three-foot-thick adobe walls, and deeply inset windows.
Across the street is the:
2. Gregoria Crespin House
The records of this house (132 E. de Vargas St.) date back at least to 1747, when it was sold for 50 pesos. Originally of pueblo design, it later had Territorial embellishments added in the trim of bricks along its roofline.
Just down the road is the:
3. Santa Fe Playhouse
Home to the oldest existing thespian group in New Mexico, this original adobe theater (at 142 E. de Vargas St.) still holds performances.
On the next block, at 401 Old Santa Fe Trail, is the:
4. Mission of San Miguel
Built around 1612, this ranks as one of the oldest churches in the United States. Today, it's maintained and operated by the Christian Brothers.
Across de Vargas Street from the Mission of San Miguel is the so-called:
5. Oldest House in the United States
Whether or not this is true is anybody's guess, but this is among the last of the poured-mud adobe houses and may have been built by Pueblo people. The new owners, who run a crafts shop here, date the place between 1200 and 1646.
Take a Break -- This might be a good time to stop in at the Mission Café and Sweet Shop, 237 E. de Vargas (tel. 505/983-3033), which serves excellent coffee and tea and tasty chocolates under shady elm trees.
There are more homes at the east end of de Vargas, before its junction with Canyon Road. Among them is the:
6. Arthur Boyle House
This house (at 327 E. de Vargas St.) on the left side of the street was built in the mid-18th century as a hacienda.
Up the block and across the street is the:
7. José Alarid House
Built in the 1830s, this house (at 338 E. de Vargas St.) is a one-story structure with a pitched metal roof in the grand style of a hacienda.
East de Vargas crosses Paseo de Peralta, entering an alleyway. Immediately on the right is the:
8. Adolph Bandelier House
This house (at 352 E. de Vargas St.; also listed as 1005 Paseo de Peralta) was the home of the famous archaeologist who unearthed the prehistoric ruins at Bandelier National Monument. It has undergone a fine restoration, and houses Sherwoods, a gallery specializing in Native American artifacts.
Extending for a mile or so before you, Canyon Road was once a Native American trail used by the Pueblo tribes and traders. When the Pueblo tribes came to launch their 1680 insurrection against the Spanish colonists, they used this route. Today, it's lined with art galleries, shops, and restaurants. Its historic buildings include the:
9. Juan José Prada House
This house (at 519 Canyon Rd.) dates from about 1760. A few doors before you get to it, you'll come to Morning Star Gallery, a great place to glimpse and buy museum-quality Native American arts and artifacts.
Farther up the road is:
10. El Zaguan
This building (located at 545 Canyon Rd.) is a beautiful example of a Spanish hacienda. In warmer months, be sure to walk through the garden, subject of many Santa Fe paintings. El Zaguan is the headquarters of the Historic Santa Fe Foundation (tel. 505/983-2567; www.historicsantafe.org). A publication of the foundation, Old Santa Fe Today ($10), gives detailed descriptions, with a map and photos, of approximately 80 sites within walking distance of the plaza. The office is generally open weekdays 9am to 5pm; closed Sunday and holidays.
Take a Break -- If you're ready for a break, look for Cruz (616 Canyon Rd.; tel. 505/986-0644), a gallery and coffee shop on your right. It serves drinks and pastries in a cozy, colorful atmosphere. Farther up Canyon Road, you may want to stop at the old Borrego House, which is now Geronimo Restaurant (724 Canyon Rd.; tel. 505/982-1500), for lunch or dinner.
If you have the stamina to continue, turn right on Camino del Monte Sol, then right again on Camino del Poniente, and bear right onto Acequia Madre (Mother Ditch). This narrow lane winds through one of Santa Fe's oldest and most notable residential districts. It follows the mother ditch, used for centuries to irrigate gardens in the area. A 20- to 30-minute walk will bring you to Downtown Subscription, where you can have some excellent coffee and baked goods. From there, you can take Garcia Street north, back to the base of Canyon Road.
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.