The town of Chimayó is known for its legendary Santuario.
But the name (Chimayo) derives from a Tewa name for a local landmark, the hill of Tsi Mayoh.
The Santuario de Nuestro Señor de Esquipulas, commonly known as El Santuario de Chimayó, was built in 1816 and was locally owned and run until it was handed it over to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in 1929. The chapel is now managed by the Archdiocese as a Catholic church.
Its reputation as a healing site (believers claim that dirt from a back room of the church can heal physical and spiritual ills), has caused it to become known as the “Lourdes of America,” and it attracts close to 300,000 visitors a year, including up to 30,000 during Holy Week (the week prior to Easter.)
As testament to the miraculous healings that have taken place here, a room to the side of the chapel, is hung with abandoned canes, crutches and wheelchairs.
The sanctuary was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970.
Chimayó is also renowned for the weaving traditions of the Ortega and Trujillo families, who have been weaving in the Spanish Colonial tradition for many generations Their traditional craft is but one of several still practiced in the region, including tin smithing, wood carving, and making religious paintings.
Along with these obvious tourist attractions, Chimayo is also famous for its heirloom chile, still grown from 300-year-old native seed stock!
In reality, Chimayó still connects old New Mexico with the present in its preservation of the state’s diverse cultural heritage, via both its crafts and crops. And of course, its little chapel of miracles.
Every Saturday, Heritage Inspirations – New Mexico’s premier tour company – provides travelers with an in-depth feel to the old Southwest with an immersive tour of Chimayó.
Angelisa Murray, owner of Heritage Inspirations, explained, “Many people are aware of the Easter pilgrimage to Santuario de Chimayó and they go to Chimayó to see the chapel with the healing dirt, but they seem unaware of how incredibly special Chimayó is, year-round.”
“There is no better location to witness how people lived and worked two hundred years ago, and get a feel for the old Southwest.” She says.
She cites Chimayó’s architecture, geography, craftsmanship, and cuisine as a magnificent backdrop to all the special traditional New Mexican elements.
Heritage Inspirations has partnered with several local artisans who have been plying their crafts for generations in Chimayó.
You’ll meet Sharon Candelario who shows her black tin etching technique, get weaving demonstrations from Lisa Trujillo, and visit the Medinas where heirloom chile blends are shared in the half shell of a pistachio nut. Guests walk through the original plaza visiting local institutions, like the Chimayó Museum, which is a unique highlight that most visitors rarely see because of their focus on the Santuario.
And what would an exploration of Chimayo be without tasting that world famous chile?
A lunch at Rancho de Chimayó is included in the tour package, featuring traditional recipes that have been passed down through generations.
After taking this tour, you’ll come away with a deeper understanding of what makes northern New Mexico so unique.
This tour is saturated with the people, the history and the heritage, proving Angelisa’s point, that in Chimayó, “everything is emblematic of New Mexico’s heritage and culture.”
“Everything comes together here,” says Angelisa.
For more information about The Magical Heirlooms of Chimayó Day Tour, please visit Heritage Inspirations’ site linked below this post.
Images thanks to Heritage Inspirations,except for Santuario photographs,Stock Files