Old Town Albuquerque
Historic Old Town has been the heart of Albuquerque since the city was founded here in 1706. Today, historic Old Town Albuquerque is the city's cultural center, with five museums and more than 100 shops, galleries and restaurants. Old Town was the first neighborhood in 1706, when a group of Spanish families settled here, not far from the Rio Grande. The settlers organized their new town in the traditional Spanish colonial way, with a central plaza anchored by a church. When the original adobe church collapsed after the long, rainy summer of 1792, they rebuilt, and in 1793 San Felipe de Neri church was completed. Today, this adobe church with walls five feet thick is the oldest in Albuquerque and its white towers mark Old Town from a distance. It remains a functioning Catholic church, and as you wander around the neighborhood you may see couples posing for wedding pictures in the Plaza's gazebo. More than 300 years after it was founded, Old Town remains a center for culture, architecture, shopping, art and cuisine.
At a Glance: Old Town
|Distance from Airport
||8.7 Miles/14 KM
||Museums, Shopping, Parks, Fishing, Family fun, Art Galleries, Aquarium, Gardens
||Old Town has been the heart of Albuquerque since the city was founded here in 1706. Today, Historic Old Town is our cultural center, with five museums and more than 100 shops, galleries and restaurants.
Although the church is the neighborhood's most elaborate structure, you'll notice that most of the architecture of Old Town Albuquerque is adobe, in the Pueblo-Spanish style. These traditional buildings have flat roofs, stuccoed walls with rounded edges and are supported with heavy wooden beams called vigas
. The arrival of the railroad here in 1880 brought new architectural styles, and there are many Victorian buildings that house shops, offices and bed-and-breakfasts. Despite centuries of change, the Albuquerque Old Town
area has retained its charming, walkable character.
To learn more about Albuquerque and this area, you can visit some of Old Town's museums. Just off the Plaza, the newly-renovated Albuquerque Museum of Art & History showcases the cultural heritage of New Mexico through its vast collections and also houses traveling exhibitions. Across the street, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science stands out with the prominent dome of its planetarium. This innovative and hands-on museum explores botany, geology, computer science and paleontology (dinosaurs!). The museum's Planetarium is world-class and the DynaTheater has been completely renovated to offer visitors a state-of-the-art digital 3D experience. At Explora, kids of all ages will be amazed by more than 250 interactive science, technology and art exhibits. Fans of Southwestern jewelry will enjoy theTurquoise Museum, where visitors experience the depths of a turquoise mine and view rare and spectacular turquoise specimens from all over the world. To test your bravery, visit the American International Rattlesnake Museum. This unique museum in the heart of Old Town offers the world's largest collection of live rattlesnakes!
Old Town Albuquerque is also a great place to explore nature. On a leisurely stroll through the Botanic Garden you'll discover unique local plants, visit the sharks in their 285,000-gallon tank at the ABQ BioPark Aquarium or go fishing at Tingley Beach. Don't miss a ride on the narrow gauge, 3/4 scale train that connects botanic garden, aquarium and Tingley Beach with the nearby zoo. You can find details on the train as well as current events at the Visitor Information Center in Old Town.
Old Town Albuquerque is also a significant fine arts center where collectors will find an enviable selection of paintings, sculptures, photography, ceramics and crafts. There are over 100 boutiques and galleries and shops in the neighborhood, so whether you're looking for souvenirs, trendy clothing, authentic southwestern jewelry, or fine art, you are sure to find it here.
And when you get hungry, the Albuquerque Old Town area is the perfect place to try traditional New Mexican food. Just find a spot on one of the area's quiet patios and sit down to a big plate full of enchiladas layered with green chile sauce, shredded chicken and melted cheese. Or try a sopaipilla stuffed with ground beef and slathered with red chile sauce. And when you need a break from chiles, you can always get a burger at a retro diner or relax at one of Old Town's chic contemporary restaurants. On a warm afternoon there's nothing better than a cold margarita sipped on a sunny patio in OldTown.
If you choose to stay at one of the full-service hotels or historic bed and breakfasts in the Albuquerque Old Town area, you'll be within walking distance of nearly all of the area's attractions. Old Town has recently made some great enhancements for visitors (look for shops open later in the evenings!) and there are cultural festivals and celebrations happening seasonally throughout the week.
At the top of this page, you will find a gallery of pictures of Old Town Albuquerque.
For more information on Old Town, see
Authentic Albuquerque: History: Historic Old Town
Things to Do: Tours & Sightseeing: Walking Tours: Plaza to Plaza Walking Tour