famous weaving center along
The High Road to Taos


Chimayo was founded in the early 1700s after the area was re-conquered by the Spanish.   The Plaza of San Burenaventura, now called the Plaza del Cerro was built around 1740.  Weaving has been a tradition here for 250 years.

As early as 1540, during Coronado's expedition into this area, several thousand churro sheep were brought here, though they were mostly used for food.  Later in the 1600s when settlers began to come, the churro sheep began to be used for wool for blankets and the Pueblo Indians were used to do the work of the weaving.

Ortega's de Chimayo (right) and Chimayo Trading & Merchantile (left)

Weaving may actually have begun as early as 800 AD using cotton as the fiber.   The Pueblos, though scattered geographically, grew the cotton and did the weaving.  Often looms were set up in the kivas and became a part of the religious ceremony.

When the railroad came to these parts in the 1880s bringing mill-woven blankets, the weaving industry here became obsolete.  However, certain families, some of which could trace the roots of their weaving trade back to the 1700s, kept the craft alive.  In 1900 commercial looms began to be used by the local weavers who produced very high quality woven goods.

To see and shop for these high quality weavings, there are a number shops to visit including Ortega's de Chimayo and the Chimayo Trading & Mercantile Art Gallery both located on New Mexico Highway 76, "The High Road to Taos".   Chimayo is about 10 miles from Espanola at the intersection of Hwy 76 and Hwy 68.

a pilgrimage site

In the early 1800s tradition passed down through the generations tells of a Don Bernardo Abeyta, a member of the Hermandad de Nuestro Padre Jesus el Nazaeno (Penitentes), who was doing the penances of the Society in the hills of El Potero, a separate community which is now part of Chimayo.

In 1810 he found a crucifix which though it was given to the priest at Santa Cruz and taken in procession to their church, kept reappearing at the site of the current Santuario in Chimayo.   Between 1814 and 1816, Don Abeyta built an adobe chapel honoring Nuestro Senor de Esquipulas and a shrine to house the "miracle of the cross".

The dirt where the cross appeared was considered to have healing powers.   Soon pilgrims began to make their way to the site on Good Friday, some walking barefoot for miles.  Today nearly 300,000 pilgrims come per year.

El Santuario was until 1929 a privately owned chapel. However, at that time it was bought by people from Santa Fe and given over to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.

You may visit the shrine and chapel between 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM from October to April, and between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM from June to September.

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El Sanctuario

The street scene leading to El Santuario