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  • Shawn Kocab

Get to Know the Unique Appeal and History of Albuquerque

Updated: Nov 13, 2022

Few American cities have a background and a history that's as colorful as that of Albuquerque. Indeed, the city's stories are almost as colorful as the vivid sky colors and panoramic vistas for which Albuquerque has become famous.

While most people think of Albuquerque as an American melting pot city, its origins go back hundreds and even thousands of years.

Start with the unique location. The history of Albuquerque New Mexico is tied to its geography--Albuquerque is part of the Rio Grande Valley, which has had various populations living there and cultivating the land dating back to 2000 B.C. The Pueblo were the initial natives, and their skills in the art of ceramics, stone masonry and a variety of other arts and crafts are still an integral part of Albuquerque's arts and culture scene today.

But it was the Spanish explorers who gave Albuquerque its unusual name. It was a Spaniard, General Francisco de Coronado, who colonized the area and claimed it for Spain in 1540. Later, in 1706, King Philip would establish a new city-the Spaniards called them "villas"- on the banks of the Rio Grande.

The advantages of the terrain were obvious-the river provided irrigation for crops, there was wood for building and cultivation, and the curve of the river provided natural protection against the various hostile tribes that were occasional threats to the Spaniards. And of course the physical beauty of the area has a special appeal all its own.

The naming of Albuquerque is yet another intriguing story. According to the historical record, the governor of the colony, Francisco y Valdes, sent a letter back to Spain to the Duke of Albuquerque to report on the villa, which had been named after the duke. Over time the first "r" was dropped, leaving Albuquerque with its unusual contemporary spelling.

But the name is hardly the most intriguing aspect of Albuquerque. In addition to the cultural heritage of the Pueblo, Albuquerque also reflects the intense religious devotion of the Spanish, who build many unique churches in the city.

The most famous of those churches is part of the historical area of Albuquerque known as "Old Town," the centerpiece of which is the San Felipe de Neri church. This church dates back to the 1700s, although its been remodeled several times and rebuilt entirely after it collapsed in the late 1700s. It remains the primary feature of Old Town during the many festivals and cultural events that are held there.

Albuquerque's modern appeal is just as colorful. The area features a diverse population, and Albuquerque has become something of a hotbed for high-tech research facilities, most notably the Sandia National Laboratories. And as the host city for the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque offers the unique appeal of a thriving college town.

Part of the appeal of Albuquerque is also related to the city's climate, which is both mild and dry. Sunny weather is a constant feature-indeed, Albuquerque has over 300 sunny days per year, but it also has four well-differentiated seasons as well.

As you might expect given the city's diversity, Albuquerque cuisine is something of a melting pot was well. "Spicy" is the password here-Albuquerque food could be described as a combination of Native American and Spanish flavors, with the heat and flavor added by the red and green chiles that tend to be ubiquitous in area restaurants.

In short, there's something for everyone in Albuquerque. It's a popular tourist destination, but natives and locals who came for the climate are constantly discovering new things about the city they call home, which is truly one of the most amazing places in the US.

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