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ranchos de taos plaza

A tiny village four miles south of Taos on State Highway 68 (between mile markers 41 & 42), Ranchos de Taos is home to the San Francisco de Asis Church (or the Ranchos Church) a National Historic Landmark. The church has been an inspiration for many great artists who’ve left us with a palpable sense of the people places and events of the past and present. The heavy buttresses have been portrayed in all media since the early 20th Century, most famously by Georgia O’Keeffe, Ansel Adams, and Paul Strand. The ever changing light has made capturing the back of this structure a challenge to artists/photographers for over a century.

The Plaza was here before the church was built; in the mid-1700s it was the most populated community in the vicinity. Most of the buildings in the old plaza contain parts of the original structure, some of these buildings are over 300 years old. Map of Ranchos de TaosThis historic plaza was built on top of an abandoned Native American Village. The front of the Church faces away from the road revealing it’s famous backside to travelers as they arrive to Taos. This is not meant to confuse visitors it merely faces the original road in to Taos a branch of the Old Santa Fe Trail. Into the 1920’s the area was known as the “Breadbasket of the Southwest” providing wheat and flour for the entire region.

Each spring, the Church is re-plastered with a mixture of mud and straw by the local parishioners. Once again work will begin at the beginning of June with locals and visitors joining in for the “enjarre”, or re-mud.

Inside the parish office resides “The Shadow of the Cross” or “the Mystery Painting” by Henry Ault. A Small fee is charged and you will also be shown a short video about the Church. These can be viewed
Mon.-Fri. 10AM-4PM.
San Francisco de Asis Church visiting hours 9-4 Mon.-Sat. 575-751-0518
Sunday Mass Service 8AM Spanish, 11AM

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