The sturdy adobe San Miguel Chapel (401 Old Santa Fe Tr., 505/983-3974, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Sun., $1) is the oldest church structure in the United States, built around 1610 and then partially rebuilt a century later, after it was set aflame in the Pueblo Revolt. Its stone buttresses are the product of a desperate attempt to shore up the sagging walls in the late 19th century.
The interior is snug and whitewashed, with painted buffalo hides on the walls and a splendid altar screen that was restored in 1955 after having been covered in house paint for decades. The late-18th-century work is attributed to the anonymous Laguna Santero, a Mexican artist who earned his name from the intricately carved and painted screen at the Laguna Pueblo church, near Albuquerque . The screen functions like an enormous picture frame, with both oil paintings and bultos (painted wood statues of saints) inserted in the openings.
Below the altar, you can look down into cutouts made into the floor to see the original foundations of the building.
On your way out, take a look at the old church bell, now on display in the side room. Allegedly cast in Spain in 1356, it was brought to the New World and installed at San Miguel in the early 19th century.