USA: Santa Fe, NM
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Besides being the Capital of the State of New Mexico and the oldest capital
city in the US, Santa Fe is not just one of the most beautiful American
cities; it is also one of the most unique. It sits in the high dessert at 7,000
feet (2134 m) above sea level, making it the highest state capital in the
United States, with warm summers and quite cold winters. It does take a
while to get use to its high elevation, and I usually end up with a
headache, but that should not stop anyone from enjoying it.
Santa Fe is one of the few
American cities with the unique
American architecture. Most of the
houses are built in the Spanish Pueblo
Revival style, which elements came mostly
from local adobe buildings, built by the Indians hundreds of years ago (even their
McDonalds is built in this style). With its flat roofs, thick round walls and worm
reddish-brown colors, they blend perfectly with the surrounding dessert.
Santa Fe, with around 70,000 residents, has
the second largest art market in the US, right
behind New York. It is a haven for artists and
many call it their home, one of the best
known being the late Georgia O'Keeffe. As I
was waking around I found a gallery with
very familiar looking sculptures and it turned
out that they were made by the artist Gib
Singleton, a sculptor in bronze, who
designed the famous cross for Pope John
Paul II. You can find a lot of southwestern
influenced art and Indian arty-crafts. The
pottery is just incredible and many nationally
known Indian pottery makers come from
here.
In one of those, a bit hidden, second floor
stores, I have found beautiful, almost black pots made of Micaceous clay which
is a naturally occurring, but hard to find, blend of mica and red clay. It
comes from the same place in the mountains, above Rio Grande, as it was dug
eight hundred years ago. The pots are not just beautiful to look at but able to
withstand the high temperatures of modern appliances, quite sturdy and they
give food a special flavor. I hope to own one one day.
Down town Santa Fe is walkable, with
hundreds of galleries, restaurants and a big
Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi.

Sante Fe is also close to the city of Taos, NM,
several ski resorts, a pilgrimage shrine called
El Santuario de Chimayo (sometimes called
the "Lourdes of the Southwest") with its
sacred sand pit,
the canyon of the river
Rio Grande, a geological
wonder Kasha-Katuwe
Tent Rocks National
Monument,
and
Eight Northern
Indian Pueblos
.