In 1706 Don Francisco Cuervo y Valdes, acting governor of the Province of New Mexico, boldly announced the founding of the Villa of Albuquerque. It proved to be a poor decision. In his haste, he’d failed to ask permission from the viceroy and, through him, the King of Spain. He also neglected the paperwork necessary to obtain a land grant for the new villa. The oversight soon cost him his job, and the legitimacy of Albuquerque would be debated for centuries to follow, even in the New Mexico Supreme Court as late as 1959. Legitimate or not, what stands on the founding site today is Old Town, a former town center packed with hundreds of boutiques, galleries, museums, hotels, and historic sites. This walk winds through hidden alleys and patios, then strays west to explore an “authentic” residential area outside of the tourist zone.
Start at Plaza Don Luis, where you’ll find the Old Town Visitor Center. Pick up a few brochures and maps to enhance the walk ahead. If you start out with an odd sensation of walking on somebody’s grave, it’s probably because this small brick plaza was built upon Albuquerque’s first cemetery and the burials were supposedly left intact.
© 2015 Stephen Ausherman/Wilderness Press. All Rights Reserved.