New Mexico’s beauty is not restricted to the natural world. We also have unique and impressive architecture, much of which has endured for centuries. The wonders on this list range from intricately decorated theaters and hotels to structures that expertly combine form and function. Here are 16 examples of New Mexico’s best buildings and structures.
1. El Rancho Hotel, Gallup
This hotel was constructed by the brother of movie director D. W. Griffith and opened in 1937. The goal was to create a place for stars to stay while they filmed movies (usually westerns) in the area. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places. It earned a spot on this list as much for its lovely interior as for its exterior.
2. Taos Pueblo, Taos
These adobe homes are almost one thousand years old - talk about architecture that endures! Many of the buildings’ walls are several feet thick. This UNESCO World Heritage site is in a gorgeous setting, against the backdrop of the Taos Mountains.
3. New Mexico Military Institute Campus, Roswell
This military high school and junior college is built in an imposing Gothic style.
4. The Gila Cliff Dwellings, in the Gila Wilderness
The Mimbres built these cliff dwellings in the 13th and 14th centuries and the remains are still in decent shape today. The use of interlinked caves as the basis for a complex is a creative and smart design strategy.
5. The Roundhouse, Santa Fe
Aside from being the country's only round state capitol building, the protruding entrances means that it also looks like the Zia sun symbol. This building combines New Mexico Territorial revival style, with some neoclassical touches.
6. Basilica of San Albino, Mesilla
The first church built on this site was actually located in Mexico! The current Romanesque church was constructed in 1906, after the Gadsden Purchase made this area part of the United States.
7. Santa Fe Opera, Santa Fe
Like the previous Santa Fe opera houses, the Crosby Theater is open on the sides. This allows patrons to view the performance on the stage, while simultaneously watching the sun set over the surrounding landscape.
8. Plaza Hotel, Las Vegas
You wouldn’t know it today, but in the 1870s, Las Vegas was the largest city in the territory. The Plaza Hotel was built here in 1881 and featured 37 guest rooms, a dance hall, restaurant, and saloon.
9. La Fonda Hotel, Santa Fe
There has been an inn at this exact location since the 17th century! Today’s hotel dates back to 1922. It retains original features like the 25-foot tall cathedral ceiling, hand-carved beams, and large tin chandeliers. La Plazuela Restaurant inhabits the old patio and is surrounded by vibrantly painted interior windows.
10. Elephant Butte Dam, Elephant Butte
This concrete gravity dam, on the Rio Grande, was finished in 1916. The dam is 301 feet high and produces hydroelectric power.
11. Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, near Taos
Suspended 650 feet above a gorge, this bridge is definitely an architectural achievement. It's also the second highest bridge to be included in the U.S. highway system.
12. The Chaco Canyon complex, near Nageezi
The Ancient Pueblo People lived in the Chaco Canyon area between roughly the 9th and 13th centuries. Part of the reason for its UNESCO World Heritage designation is the distinctive architecture found here. Construction occurred on a massive scale, using sophisticated building methods. The Great Houses at Chaco consisted of hundreds of rooms spread over multiple stories.
13. Earthships, near Taos
Earthships are an impressive example of sustainable architecture in New Mexico.
14. Isleta Resort Casino, Albuquerque
The use of glass in this casino is truly beautiful.
15. KiMo Theatre, Albuquerque
Located in downtown Albuquerque, this 1927 theatre is a fine example of Art Deco-Pueblo style architecture.
16. Lensic Theater, Santa Fe
This "Spanish-style" theater opened in 1931 and its unusual architecture has wowed people ever since.
What’s your favorite building in New Mexico? What else would you add to this list?
Let us know in the comments.