San Felipe de Neri Church
Established in 1706 along with the city itself, San Felipe de Neri Church (2005 N. Plaza St. NW) was originally built on what would become the west side of the plaza—but it dissolved in a puddle of mud after a strong rainy season in 1792.
The replacement structure, on the north side of the plaza, has fared much better, perhaps because its walls, made of adobelike terrones (sun-dried bricks cut out of sod) are more than five feet thick.
As they have for two centuries, local parishioners attend Mass here, conducted three times a day, once in Spanish.
Like many religious structures in the area, San Felipe de Neri received a makeover from Eurocentric Bishop Jean Baptiste Lamy of Santa Fe in the second half of the 19th century.
Under his direction, the place got its wooden folk Gothic spires, as well as new Jesuit priests from Naples, who later added such non-Spanish details as the gabled entrance and the widow’s walk. The small yet grand interior has brick floors, a baroque gilt altar, and an elaborate pressed-tin ceiling with Moorish geometric patterns.
A tiny museum (9 a.m.–4 p.m. Mon.–Sat., free) on the west side contains some historical church furnishings.
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition