What is the Capital of New Mexico?

People enjoy time in Santa Fe Plaza.

The capital of New Mexico is Santa Fe, having become the capital in 1851.

Within this post, we will talk about where exactly the capital of New Mexico is located, a brief history of Santa Fe, when and why it became the capital, and some fun things to do in the area.

Where Is The Capital Of New Mexico Located?

Where Is The Capital Of New Mexico Located
Where Is The Capital Of New Mexico Located

The capital of New Mexico is located in Santa Fe. It is geographically located along the Santa Fe river, in the north-central part of the state.

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New Mexico is bordered by Mexico in the south, Colorado in the north, Arizona in the west, and Oklahoma and Texas in the east. The top-west section of New Mexico touches Colorado, Utah, Arizona – the only spot where the four states meet.

The closest city to Santa Fe is Albuquerque, NM (58 miles away), followed by Colorado Springs, CO (226 miles away), and then Lubbock (272 miles away) and El Paso (273 miles away) in Texas. The closest city in Mexico to New Mexico is Ciudad Juarez (275 miles away). 

The largest city in New Mexico is Albuquerque.

Brief History of Santa Fe

Views of Santa Fe New Mexico
Views of Santa Fe New Mexico

Back in 1050, the area that is now known as Santa Fe was occupied by different groups of Pueblo Indians. They lived in the area for the next 100 years before abandoning it, leaving very little remains behind.

In 1540 the Spanish arrived, with the conquistador Don Francisco Vasques de Coronado claiming the ‘Kingdom of New Mexico’ for the Spanish Crown. During this expedition, Coronado and his team also discovered the Great Plains and the Grand Canyon. 67 years later, the city of Santa Fe was founded. 

In 1598 San Juan Pueblo was established as the capital of New Mexico by Don Juan de Onate, but when he died, a new Governor-General was appointed. This man was called Don Pedro de Peralta and he moved the capital to present day Santa Fe.

Over the next hundred years, Spanish soldiers and Franciscan missionaries tried to convert the indigenous people of the region, which at that time was close to 100,000 people. These original inhabitants spoke nine languages, lived in 70 multi-stories pueblos, and revolted against the colonists. 

The Pueblo Indians killed 400 out of 2,500 soldiers, driving the rest back to Mexico. They burnt their buildings and re-occupied their lands until 1692, when Don Diego de Vargas took back the city.

Over the next few centuries, New Mexico would gain its independence from Spain, became a state in 1912, and flourish as one of the most intriguing places in the whole of the United States.

When did Santa Fe become the Capital of New Mexico?

Santa Fe became the capital of New Mexico in 1851. However, a lot had to happen before it was permanently appointed as the capital.

Santa Fe was the capital of New Mexico (or as it was called in the past, Nuevo México) until 1810, when the Mexican War of Independence broke out. Less than 40 years later, the US declared war on Mexico, creating the Mexican-American War. 

During that time, a brigadier called Stephen W. Kearny took his soldiers to claim Santa Fe and the whole Nuevo México territory for the United States. When the war ended, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo gave the US control of Mexican lands such as Nuevo México.

Finally, in 1851 Santa Fe became the official capital of New Mexico, then a part of US territory. It became an important trading hub for Native Americans, farmers, the railroad, and mines in the surrounding mountains. 

In 1912, New Mexico became the 47th state in the United States of America.

Why is Santa Fe the Capital of Mexico City?

Alameda Condos under bright cloudy sky on Vegas Verdes Drive in Santa Fe
Alameda Condos under bright cloudy sky on Vegas Verdes Drive in Santa Fe

There are many reasons as to why Santa Fe is the capital of New Mexico. 

One of these reasons is the fact that Pedro de Peralta wanted a location for the state that would be easily defendable and secure. 

Along with that, the town had a good water supply, plenty of land for development, and had already had a lot of basic structure from the Pueblo Indians. 

Features of Santa Fe, New Mexico

The size of Santa Fe is approximately 135.6 km², with a population of around 84,418 (as of 2020).

It is a city with a long and interesting history, and nowadays, is recognized as one of the most fascinating urban environments in the US. Santa Fe still has a distinctive Spanish-Pueblo style of architecture based on the mud and straw foundations of the past.

Santa Fe is an incredibly diverse city, and as you explore it, you will find yourself drawn to the rich cultural heritage and history that surrounds it. 

Best Places to Visit in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Canyon Road

Canyon Road is one of the top places to visit in Santa Fe, due to the fact that it is used as the trade route leading to the community of Pecos. As such, it is a deeply historical place – and nowadays, it is also filled with over 100 artist studios and galleries, along with craft workshops.

The Museum of New Mexico Complex 

For those who enjoy soaking up the history of a place through a museum, this is the perfect place to visit. Displaying the history of the state from the 16th century onwards, you can immerse yourself in exhibits displaying colonization and native populations.

The Santa Fe Opera House 

This is the top performing arts center in the whole state, and as such, offers a wide variety of operatic works, seasonal performances, and even internships. Plus, they have a tradition known as ‘tailgating’, where you can mingle with other theatergoers and snack on some finger-food. 

Plaza

To soak up the busy hub of Santa Fe’s life, the best place to visit is Plaza. Here, you can soak up the atmosphere of an old market square which flourished back in the time of the Spanish conquistadors. Enjoy a carajillo, take in the artwork at the galleries, and purchase some Native American arts and crafts.

See Also

Capital Cities 

Hi and welcome to my travel blog! Based in London, I work in investment banking in a quantitative field and although I am not part of the travel industry, I have a ton of passion for travel. My blog is a reference guide for my fellow travelers with the same passion as me. Hopefully the blog is easy to navigate and my aim is to bring the most relevant and interesting information before you begin your journey!