The Cross of the Martyrs is an easy, enjoyable, and often-overlooked historic monument site just northeast of downtown Santa Fe plaza. This iconic site is a great idea for guests of the Inn at Pueblo Bonito to enjoy during their Santa Fe vacation. The Cross of the Martyrs is excellent for an evening stroll, Sunday city view, or an anytime free history lesson of Old Santa Fe! The vantage point at the top offers dramatic views of The Plaza, the entire city and valley it’s located in, as well as a glorious sunset viewing! Among all of these views, the peek into the history of the oldest capital city in the United States is the best reason to make incorporate it into your Santa Fe to do list.
The walk or “hike” up to the top is not an arduous climb, but it does take moderate fitness. A consistent inclined brick walkway provides a series of switchbacks interspersed with steps that climb to the ridge above Paseo de Peralta in Hillside Park. The project was a gift to Santa Fe visitors made on it’s 375th anniversary (Santa Fe is currently over 400 years old as of 2015). Handrails and sure footing on the commemorative walkway are abundant with ample reasons to stop, read, and catch your breath; a series of display plaques offer interesting historical facts to provide momentary diversions from the climb. Remember that Santa Fe’s elevation is more than 7,000 feet above sea level.
The twenty chronologically ordered plaques give visitors a glimpse into the events shaping Santa Fe’s blending of primary cultures (Native American, Spanish and Anglo). The walk accurately paints a journey through history starting at 500 AD to our modern era. At the top of the walkway, a bricked plaza area reveals a steel cross – erected to honor the 21 Franciscan Friars killed in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.
The Pueblo revolt of 1680 was organized at the Taos Pueblo and led by Popé – a San Juan Pueblo medicine man- and was a mass insurrection by natives of the area pueblos against the Spanish interests. Popé became the ruler of all the pueblos of New Mexico for a dozen years as result of the successful revolt that killed 400 Spaniards and caused the survivors to flee to El Paso del Norte (El Paso, TX.) While the revolt did not remove the Spanish from the area permanently, it did cause changes in the way the Spanish dealt with the Pueblo Indians after 1692.
A cobblestone platform surrounds the cross. The site is a wonderful place for reflection, to take in the city views, or to take sunset photos of Santa Fe. Picnic tables are available nearby, offering the opportunity to take extra time to just relax and enjoy the beauty of the place and moment.
Getting to The Cross of the Martyrs from the Inn at Pueblo Bonito is simple: a guest would head to the Plaza, taking East Palace Avenue to Paseo de Peralta. From there, you would go left on Paseo de Peralta and follow it past Tommy Mascione park (to your right) and the Santa Fe Girls Club. Just past the entrance to the Girls Club is the entrance to the walkway on your right side. Legal parking places are at a premium but can be found on the street surrounding Tommy Mascione park.
On Fiesta weekend, a candlelit procession to The Cross of the Martyrs from Saint Francis Cathedral occurs after a special Mass. Fiesta weekend is celebrated the weekend after Labor Day in Santa Fe, NM.
compliments of Inn at Pueblo Bonito- Santa Fe, NM
Santa Fe is the capital of New Mexico and is the fourth-largest city in the state. Santa Fe is not only the oldest capital city in New Mexico, but also in all of the United States. It is also revered for its preservation of history and culture, making it one of the top ranked vacation destinations in the world.
“Santa Fe” means “holy faith” in Spanish. In 2014, the population was 68,298. The city was originally occupied by a number of Pueblo Indian villages with founding dates between 1050 to 1150. One of the earliest known settlements in what today is downtown Santa Fe came sometime after 900. A Native American group built a cluster of homes that centered around the site of today’s Plaza and spread for half a mile to the south and west; the village was called Ogapoge. The Santa Fe River provided water to people and is a seasonal waterway which was a year round stream until the 1700s. In 2007, the river was recognized as the most endangered river in the United States, according to the conservation group American Rivers. Today, a short walk from Inn at Pueblo Bonito brings visitors to the Santa Fe River to view hand carved life sized Santos made by local artisans.
Don Juan de Oñate led the first effort to colonize the region in 1598, establishing Santa Fe de Nuevo México as a province of New Spain. Under Juan de Oñate and his son, the capital of the province was the settlement of San Juan de los Caballeros, which lay north of Santa Fe near modern Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo (aka San Juan Pueblo). New Mexico’s second Spanish governor, Don Pedro de Peralta, however, founded a new city at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in 1607. He called it La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís (the Royal Town of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi). In 1610, he made it the capital of the province, which it has almost constantly remained, making it the oldest state capital in the United States.
Except for the years 1680–1692, when, as a result of the Pueblo Revolt, the native Pueblo people drove the Spaniards out of the area known as New Mexico, later to be reconquered by Don Diego de Vargas, Santa Fe remained Spain’s provincial seat until the outbreak of the Mexican War of Independence in 1810. In 1824 the city’s status as the capital of the Mexican territory of Santa Fe de Nuevo México was formalized in the 1824 Constitution. The Cross of Maryters, a memorial cross commemorating loss of life in 1680 Pueblo Revolt, is a favorite historic landmark for Santa Fe visitors to see and view a glorious Santa Fe sunset (15 minute walk from Inn at Pueblo Bonito- Santa Fe).
The Republic of Texas claimed Santa Fe as part of the western portion of Texas along the Rio Grande when it seceded from Mexico in 1836. In 1841, a small military and trading expedition set out from Austin, Texas, with the aim of gaining control over the Santa Fe Trail. Known as the Texan Santa Fe Expedition, the force was poorly prepared and was easily captured by the Mexican army. In 1846, the United States declared war on Mexico, and Brigadier General Stephen W. Kearny led the main body of his Army of the West of some 1,700 soldiers into the city to claim it for the United States, along with the whole territory of New Mexico. By 1848, the U.S. officially gained New Mexico through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
Colonel Alexander William Doniphan, under the command of Kearny, recovered ammunition from Santa Fe labeled “Spain 1776”, showing both the quality of communication and military support New Mexico received under Mexican rule. American visitors saw little promise in the remote town. One traveler in 1849 wrote:
Did you know that the Spanish encountered over 100 Pueblo Indian Tribes while exploring five centuries ago? Did you know that from those 100-plus tribes, 19 are still separate, independent entities, speaking their own languages and maintaining distinct traditions in our state of New Mexico?
Did you know that some Pueblo communities (‘pueblo’ is the Spanish word for town) such as Taos (famous for its 1000-year-old, multi-story adobes), Acoma (glowing atop a red-rock mesa like a real-life City of Gold), and Santa Clara (home of the Puye Cliff Dwelling, which offers guided tours year-round)?
Did you know others like San Ildefonso or Santo Domingo allow visitors daily without tours? Or that others only welcome visitors on Feast Days, when costumed, body-painted dancers gather in their plazas to perform time-honored ceremonies? Native American culture and traditions are a big part of New Mexico history and southwest pride. Come join us to experience these ancient, intriguing and beautiful people who have a rich tradition to be shared with you in your visit to New Mexico.
Saturate yourself in rich historic tradition in our downtown Santa Fe bed and breakfast -the Inn at Pueblo Bonito! Our inn was orginally built in 1860 and was a West Texas Circuit Judge’s private estate. In fact, the only Indian bread oven or horno (“horno” is Spanish for bread oven) is located on the grounds of our historic bed and breakfast! So to create an authentic historic New Mexico travel experience, don’t just stay – experience traditional heritage at the Inn at Pueblo Bonito, Santa Fe.