Chimayó, about 35 minutes northeast of Santa Fe, is a great place to explore. The small hamlet, settled hundreds of years ago, is famous for three things: its distinctive weaving style, its chile and miracles.
The village is still strongly influenced by Spanish culture. Many of the current residents can trace their roots back to the original settlers, and they still keep some of the traditions, such as their unique weaving style, alive.
Chimayo's Santo Nino Chapel, where you'll discover offerings of children's shoes — Photo courtesy of Steve Collins
Chimayó is the first village you'll encounter on the High Road to Taos Scenic Byway. As you head up NM 503 towards Nambe, home of the Nambe Pueblo, stop at the Estrella del Norte Vineyards. This property, feeling a bit like the south of France, offers visitors an interesting combination of wine-tasting and art.
Back on the main route, look for the sign for Nambe Trading Post, a unique shop worth a stop.
Upon reaching the small village, look for the sign for the Santuario de Chimayó on your right. This small church, known for its healing dirt, is often called the “Lourdes of North America.” The walls of the small prayer room adjacent to the chapel are lined with discarded crutches, canes, braces and even wheelchairs, giving testimony to the reported but unconfirmed healing miracles people believe they’ve experienced.
Santuario de Chimayo is often called the "Lourdes of North America" — Photo courtesy of Steve Collins
An annual pilgrimage on Good Friday each year attracts tens of thousands of people to this tiny hamlet. Many walk from Santa Fe, Albuquerque and even further away to be there.
The Santo Niño de Atocha Chapel, located just west of the Santuario and built in the 1850s by Juan Medina, is filled with religious art and shoes people have brought to honor this child saint; he's believed to wear out his shoes in his nightly wanderings.
Walk around the village, and stop by some of the shops and galleries. El Potrero Trading Post (aka the Vigil Store), a small shop between the two chapels, is filled with an interesting selection of religious items; Pueblo Indian and Spanish Colonial art; and dried, locally grown Chimayó red chile. Media’s Gallery, directly across the road, also offers chile along with local art.
One of LowLow Medina's modified lowrider cars — Photo courtesy of Steve Collins
The area is also known for its lowriders. Stop by LowLow's Lowrider Art Place, run by local artists LowLow and Joan Medina. LowLow’s art is a tribute to this Hispanic cultural phenomenon, where vehicles are modified to have low ground clearance.
When done in the hamlet, get back in your own car and continue up the road. Hungry? Stop at Rancho de Chimayó Restaurante for a traditional Northern New Mexican lunch. The eatery is a local favorite.
Ristras made from the local red chile hang outside Rancho de Chimayo Restaurante — Photo courtesy of Steve Collins
People living in this arid and remote area had to make most of the items they needed for daily living. The first Spanish settlers who arrived in Chimayó over three hundred years ago brought Churro sheep from Spain. They used the wool produced for weaving fabric that was turned into many things, including clothing, rugs and blankets.
They also developed a unique weaving style that has been passed down through families for generations. Visit at least one of these family-owned weaving shops to look at their wares and even view demonstrations, which expose how the wool rugs, mats and vests they’re known for are created. Ortega’s Weaving sits right on NM 98 (the High Road).
Weavings line the walls at Centinela Fine Arts — Photo courtesy of Steve Collins
If you want to see more shops, take a left or a right at the junction with NM 76. A left turn will take you to Trujillo’s Weaving Shop. If you go right, look for Centinela Traditional Arts on the left. Here, award-winning weavers Irvin and Lisa Trujillo turn out work that has been shown in museums around the world.
Before you head back to Santa Fe, make a left coming out of Centinela’s driveway. A few minutes up the road, you’ll come to Oviedo Carvings and Bronze on the right. The gallery showcases the work of artist Marco Oviedo. The artist and his wife also raise mules, and you can check them out while there.
A trip to the historic mountain village of Chimayó offers a glimpse into Northern New Mexico’s rich Hispanic history and culture. What are you waiting for?