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Old Town Plaza
Old Town Plaza Review
Don Francisco Cuervo y Valdés, a provincial governor of New Mexico, laid out this small plaza in 1706. No slouch when it came to political maneuvering, he named the town after the duke of Alburquerque, viceroy of New Spain. He hoped flattery would induce the duke to waive the requirement that a town have 30 families before a charter was issued—there were only 15 families living here in 1706. The duke acquiesced. (Albuquerque is nicknamed the Duke City, so he's hardly been forgotten.) Today the plaza is tranquil, with shade trees, wrought-iron benches, and a graceful white gazebo. Roughly 200 shops, restaurants, cafés, galleries, and several cultural sites in placitas (small plazas) and lanes surround Old Town Plaza. During fiestas Old Town comes alive with mariachi bands and dancing señoritas. Seasonally, the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History offers an excellent guided walking tour that details local history and the historic architecture that remains intact here. Mostly dating back to the late 1800s, styles from Queen Anne to Territorial and Pueblo Revival, and even Mediterranean, are apparent in the one- and two-story (almost all adobe) structures.
Event schedules and maps, which contain a list of public restrooms and many (but by no means all) Old Town shops and sights are available at the Old Town Visitors Center, an outpost of the Albuquerque CVB that's somewhat hidden in the rear of Plaza Don Luis, across the street from the San Felipe de Neri Catholic Church. It is open daily, typically 9-4:30 but usually a bit later in summer. 303 Romero St. NW, Old Town, 87104. 505/243-3215. www.itsatrip.org.
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