Old Town Albuquerque © Jsweida
New Mexico's largest city has been described as
having one foot in the past and one in the present, with its eyes
firmly set on the future. This certainly sums up this multicultural
city, spread across the desert plains beside the Rio Grande.
It is known for its high-tech research facilities and
sentimental pride towards its historic Old Town, and offers a mix
of museums, galleries, spicy restaurants, and great shopping
centres to satisfy the appetite of every kind of visitor.
Albuquerque has an ultra-relaxed attitude, with shorts and t-shirts
the unofficial uniform and locals cracking jokes about living in a
'dusty hick town'. But the city's numerous attractions are on-hand
to prove them wrong.
Albuquerque was born back in 1706 when a group of
Spanish colonists decided that the point on the Rio Grande where
the river made a sweeping curve, backed by the wooded slopes of the
nearby Sandia Mountains, would be a useful place to start a
settlement. Water for irrigation and wood for building was
plentiful, and the local Indian pueblos were available for
The new town, at first just a cluster of mud houses
around a small adobe church, was named for Spain's 10th Duke of
Albuquerque. Today the original church, San Felipe de Neri, stands
enshrined in the centre of the historic heart of the city, the hub
of various special holidays and feast days, drawing visitors and
One of the most splendid sights Albuquerque has to
offer happens only once a year: each October the International
Balloon Fiesta has all eyes focussed on New Mexico's blue skies as
hundreds of hot air balloons sail past.
Every day of the year, though, the city offers up its
attractions such as the zoo, aquarium, museums, and vineyards, as
well as an array of activities like skiing, golfing, mountain
biking, hiking, or dancing. If all else fails, you can always eat -
mild or with chilli, there is nothing to beat New Mexican cuisine
to really add spice to life.