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Centered around the plaza, Albuquerque's Old Town comprises about ten blocks of historic adobe buildings. On the north side of the plaza is the San Felipe de Neri Church, the oldest building in the city, which was built in 1793. Surrounding the church, the city's settlers had built their homes, shops and government offices, many of which have since been converted into the restaurants, art galleries and shops that comprise Old Town today. More than 100 stores and 24 galleries feature a wide variety of Southwestern artwork including jewelry, sculpture, paintings, weaving and pottery. In addition, the Albuquerque Museum, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, the National Atomic Museum, and the ¡Explora! Science Center and Children's Museum are all located just to the east of Old Town, showcasing world-class exhibits.
Once running through Old Town Plaza was El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, the Royal Road of the Interior Lands, which connected Mexico City with New Mexico's Spanish capitals, San Gabriel and, later, Santa Fe. From 1598 until the opening of the Santa Fe Trail in 1821, El Camino Real was the main route into New Mexico for people, animals and goods from distant places. Now El Camino Real is a National Historic Trail designated by the U.S. government.
Old Town today looks much like it did when it was built centuries ago, 70 years before the American Revolution. Its Pueblo-Spanish style architecture with flat-roofed buildings and soft contours of adobe mirror the Southwestern landscape. Long portals (porches) line the fronts of most buildings offering shade from the New Mexican sun. Bancos (benches) are often found built into the back walls of the portals, providing the perfect place for weary walkers to sit and be soothed by a Southwestern sunset. Activities and events still revolve around the picturesque plaza, much like they did three hundred years ago. Visitors to Old Town will find a treasure trove of history, hidden in plain sight at the center of modern Albuquerque.
See Travel Tools: Neighborhood Guide: Historic Old Town Albuquerque for more information