Taos Pueblo | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Taos Pueblo

New Mexico, New Mexico, United States

Peta Stamper

08 Jun 2021

About Taos Pueblo

Taos Pueblo is an ancient indigenous American settlement in New Mexico’s Rio Grande, USA, belonging to the Taos-speaking tribe of Puebloan people who continue to live there today.

Incredibly well preserved, these 1,000 year old buildings form a beautiful rich-coloured structure, said to be one of the most photographed and painted sites in North America. In 1987, Taos Pueblos was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list due to its authentic architecture and original layout.

Taos Pueblo history

The Pueblo community in Taos Pueblo is known to date back to the 14th century, although some archeologists think it was established as far back as the 1st century AD. A drought in the late 13th century may have caused the Taos to move to the Rio Grande which had a reliable water source, although this reasoning is disputed and there is evidence of a violent struggle.

During its early years, the Taos Pueblo was a hub of trade between the indigenous societies along the Rio Grande and Plains Tribes to the northeast. The pueblo encountered the Spanish conquistadors first in 1540, members of the Francisco Vásquez de Coronado expedition, and in 1620 some Jesuit missionaries built the pueblo’s first Catholic church. The Taos resisted both building and religion.

The Pueblo tribe is one of the most secretive and enigmatic of the Native American communities, meaning that little is known about their culture because continue not to speak of their religious customs to outsiders and their language has never been written down.

Taos Pueblo today

Visits can be somewhat restrictive, particularly as regards Taos Pueblo’s beautiful church, but tours are available offering an insight into the Pueblo culture. Around 150 Pueblos still live in Taos Pueblo, and the tribal land stretches some 95,000 acres.

The architecture in Taos Pueblo is characterised by its sand coloured buildings and ceremonial sites, all made through a traditional process known as ‘adobe’ which involves mixing earth with water and straw. The Taos Pueblo also has few windows and doorways – instead featuring square entrances on the roof reached by tall ladders.

Getting to Taos Pueblo

The Taos Pueblo lies a mile north of the modern city of Taos in New Mexico, a 7 minute drive. The pueblo is an hour and a half from Santa Fe and around 2 hours from Albuquerque via I-25 exiting on 599 north and taking highway 285 and 68 to Taos.

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