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.