Thirteen years before Plymouth Colony was settled by
the Mayflower Pilgrims, Santa Fe, New Mexico, was established with a small
cluster of European type dwellings. It would soon become the seat of power for
the Spanish Empire north of the Rio Grande. Santa Fe is the oldest capital city
in North America and the oldest European community west of the Mississippi.
While Santa Fe was inhabited on a very small scale in 1607, it was truly settled by the conquistador Don Pedro de Peralta in 1609-1610. Santa Fe is the site of both the oldest public building in America, the Palace of the Governors, and the nation's oldest community celebration, the Santa Fe Fiesta, established in 1712 to commemorate the Spanish reconquest of New Mexico in the summer of 1692. Peralta and his men laid out the plan for Santa Fe at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains on the site of the ancient Pueblo Indian ruin of Kaupoge, or "place of shell beads near the water."
The city has been the capital for the Spanish "Kingdom of New Mexico," the Mexican province of Nuevo Mejico, the American territory of New Mexico (which contained what is today Arizona and New Mexico) and since 1912 the state of New Mexico. Santa Fe, in fact, was the first foreign capital over taken by the United States, when in 1846 General Stephen Watts Kearny captured it during the Mexican-American War.
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