Albuquerque is the largest city in New Mexico. Old Town Albuquerque offers a glimpse into the city's past. It is the site of Albuquerque's original settlement, built in 1706. The city was founded by 30 families from the town of Bernalillo, searching for better land for crops and sheep grazing. The town was laid out in the traditional Spanish manner of a central plaza bordered by a church, government buildings and homes. Today, shops, restaurants and galleries surround Old Town Plaza. Albuquerque sits at an altitude of over one-mile above sea level. The residents enjoy four seasons for a variety of outdoor activities. The Sandia Peak Ski Resort is accessible by the longest tram in the U.S. Museums include the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, which showcases over 400 years of New Mexico history.
Much of Northwest Albuquerque is adjacent to Petroglyph National Monument, established in 1990 to protect the estimated 17,000 petroglyphs, ancient volcanoes, pueblo ruins and a 17-mile-long basalt escarpment. The National Atomic Museum, located on Kirtland Air Force Base, is the nation's official museum for the history and science of the Nuclear Age. The city also has botanic gardens, a zoo and an aquarium. Annual events in the Albuquerque area include the International Balloon Fiesta, the June Music Festival, the Flamenco Festival and the Mariachi Festival.
New Mexico is a blend of Native American, Mexican and European cultures. There are 19 working pueblos in the north central part of New Mexico, each with its own government and religious practices. Some of the pueblos invite the public to their festivals and for tours. The pueblos sell their traditional crafts of jewelry, dolls, pottery, baskets, drums and rugs. Uninhabited ruins of the ancient Anasazi can be explored at Chaco Canyon, Canyon de Shelley, and at Aztec Ruins. Explorers from Mexico first left their imprint on the Native Americans in their search for the Seven Cities of Cibola in the mid-1500s. The Civil War battles of Glorieta Pass and Valverde brought, en masse, those of European descent to New Mexico. These diverse groups mixed and thrived in the "Land of Enchantment" to create a place unlike any other. The land, stark yet beautiful and covered by a sky of hues that are unimaginable, binds the past, present and future together.
Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico, is a located north of Albuquerque. The state's government offices are located here as are a variety of galleries, historic buildings and churches, and a large Plaza. Taos is north of Santa Fe and features galleries, upscale shopping and golf and ski resorts.
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