In the southwest of the USA, just a few hours’ drive from the border with Mexico, lies the city of Albuquerque, which today is the capital and largest city of the state of New Mexico. Albuquerque is surrounded by desert on one side and the peaks of the Sandia Mountains on the other. In addition to nature, the city attracts with its old center with various shops and romantic churches.
According to existingcountries, Albuquerque is located in central New Mexico, in Bernalillo County. The city, which was built on the Rio Grande River, is today home to almost 450,000 inhabitants. Around 800,000 people live in the entire vast agglomeration. In the center of the city, in the so-called Downtown, there are several modern high-rise buildings, but otherwise Albuquerque is mainly made up of low family houses, it is crossed by wide avenues and large shopping centers attract shoppers. For the fact that the city is located on the edge of the desert, it is relatively green. Mostly coniferous trees grow here, and small prickly bushes, which the locals call “goat heads”, are also typical. The climate here is mostly dry and warm, but in winter the ground can be covered with a fine layer of snow.
The work of the Spanish colonizers
Albuquerque was founded in 1706 by Spanish colonizers as an agricultural town in typical Spanish colonial style. In the center of the city there was a square, which was surrounded by houses, administrative buildings, and in its center stood a church. The village was originally named Alburquerque in honor of the Duke of Alburquerque, who was Viceroy of New Spain from 1702 – 1710. This name for the newly emerging city was chosen by the governor of this province, Don Francisco Cuervo y Valdés. During the 19th century, the letter “r” disappeared from the name, and so the newly developing city began to be called the current name of Albuquerque. However, the old spelling is still occasionally used.
Connecting with the world
During the American Civil War, Albuquerque was briefly occupied by the Confederate Army in 1862. The campaign was then commanded by General Henry Hopkins Sibley. In the same year, Sibley appeared in the city once more, as he retreated with the troops to Texas, so he took up armor in Albuquerque. An important year for the development of the city was the year 1880, when the Atchison-Topeka-Santa Fe railroad arrived in Albuquerque. A train station and coach house were built a few kilometers from the old city, which gave the basis for the new city district “New Albuquerque” or also “New Town”. The area around the old square, the so-called Old Town, was a separate municipality until 1940, only then did these parts of the city merge. In 1926, the famous Route 66 arrived in Albuquerque, bringing more and more visitors to the city. The construction of an air base and state laboratories was also of great importance in 1939 and 1949. Albuquerque was thus of great military importance during the Cold War.
Old and New Town
New Albuquerque grew very quickly, prospered, and at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, around 8,000 residents lived in this district. Local people could enjoy the conveniences of a modern city. There was also a tram line that connected both parts of Albuquerque and the newly founded University of New Mexico. In 1902, a local landmark – the famous Hotel Alvarado – was built in the neighborhood of the new railway station. It was a symbol of the city until 1970, when it was demolished and a parking lot was created in its place. In 2002, i.e. 100 years after its creation, its imitation – the Alvarado Transportation Center – was built on the same site. The station building has a colonial appearance, it consists of a stylish facade, there is a clock tower and an archway.
Old Town, which has survived to this day, is the most visited part of Albuquerque. There are museums, shops, cafes and it is regularly the scene of various cultural events. A small church dominates the square, and Indians sell handicrafts and silver jewelry on the porches of local houses. The influence of the Spaniards is still evident here today. In 2006, the city celebrated its three hundredth anniversary.
Fly over Albuquerque
Albuquerque is also famous for regularly hosting the largest hot air balloon festival in the world. The festival is called Fiesta Internacional de Globos de Albuquerque and runs throughout October ( www.balloonfiesta.com ). It is the largest gathering of hot air balloons in the world. The city has also been the venue for the Gordon Bennett Cup in ballooning on several occasions.
Cable car up to the clouds
The nearby Sandia Mountains are a draw for hiking enthusiasts. Those who feel up to it can try to climb Sandia Peak, which reaches an altitude of 3,163 meters. The hike is intended only for fit and brave individuals, it will take at least 6 hours. However, it is possible to reach the top, where the restaurant is located and from where there is a wonderful view of the city and the surrounding countryside, by cable car in just 15 minutes. It is said to be the longest cable car in the world, covering a distance of 4.345 kilometers (2.7 mi). Deep canyons and breathtaking terrain open up below you. Sunsets at Sandia Peak are an unforgettable experience. In the winter, Sandia Peak is used as a ski resort. Most of the hotels, motels and other accommodation facilities are located under the Sandia mountain range, i.e. in the northern part of Albuquerque. Prices for accommodation are very reasonable.
Unique airport and nuclear power
Albuquerque is home to the renowned New Mexico State University, which also has a beautiful botanical garden. Local attractions include Kirtland Air Force Base, a United States Air Force base. It was named after one of America’s first military aviators, Colonel Rove C. Kirtland. It is located near Albuquerque International Airport – the military and international airports share the same runways. A kind of civil-military airport was thus created.
Another attraction that you should definitely not miss when visiting the city is the Museum of Nuclear Science and History. In the museum, you can see a number of artifacts related to nuclear weapons, but also to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. It is possible to view faithful models of the bombs Gadget (the first test bomb detonated at a place called the Trinity Site), Little Boy (the bomb dropped on Hiroshima 06/08/1945), Fat Man (Nagasaki, 09/08/1945) and many others. Part of the exhibition is also dedicated to the fate of bombed Japanese cities, their inhabitants and describes their life before and after the disaster. Other exhibitions are devoted to the Cold War and nuclear weapons. Old military aircraft that carried nuclear weapons, as well as parts of submarines, missiles and other related technology are displayed in front of the museum.