Filed under: Activities & Attractions, Family Camping, Family Day Trips, Historic Places & Landmarks
Stepping IntoThe Past
La Hacienda de los Martinez is one of the few Northern New Mexican style late Spanish Colonial “great houses” remaining in the southwest. It was mentioned in a recent post as the location of the annual Old Taos Trade Fair, but even if you are unable to attend the last weekend in September, the Hacienda is worth a visit in its own right. A truly exceptional example of traditional Spanish Colonial architecture, it is maintained by Taos Historic Museums as a local historic site.
Located alongside the Rio Pueblo, in what is now lower Ranchitos, this 21 room family home with two courtyards was built in 1804 by Severino Martinez. From a tract of land deemed unsuitable for farming, Martinez grew the hacienda by the work of his own hands into a fortified compound of living quarters, interior courtyards, storage areas and a walled corral area.
Located at the northern end of the Camino Real route, the oldest road in North America which begins in Mexico, this massive adobe building was used as a trading post and hub of local agricultural operations. After New Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821, Martinez and his family became active in trading with Americans who were bringing in badly needed items in by way of the Santa Fe Trail. He imported cotton, medicines, iron and ceramics from Mexico and traded wool, animal hides and household goods.
Severino and his wife Maria raised six children in the Hacienda. Their eldest son was Antonio Jose, who became a priest and spiritual leader in the region, who helped to preserve the Hispanic character of the Catholic Church in the territory. He was a dynamic social reformer who created the first coeducational school in New Mexico and brought the first printing press to Taos.
Today the Hacienda is operated by the Taos Historic Museums and its twenty-one rooms surrounding two courtyards provide the visitor with a rare glimpse of the rugged frontier life and times of the early 1800s. Filled with antique furniture and personal items, pieces of culturally significant art and historical collections of household and related items, the Hacienda effectively conveys the unique heritage of New Mexico and the history of the various cultures that have helped to shape it.
The Hacienda is open daily between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Admission for adults is just $7, children 5-15 are $3 while children 5 and under are free. Regularly scheduled demonstrations present the traditional arts and crafts of the region. At the Hacienda gift shop, visitors can find bultos, retablos (locally made traditional paintings of patron saints), quilts, and vividly colored hand-woven textiles. There is something for the entire family at this historic landmark.
Read more about New Mexico campgrounds and things to do in New Mexico.