Taos Pueblo

Taos Pueblo, NM

Taos Pueblo in New Mexico is a very unique place. Not only is it a thriving community of people today, but the families who live there make their homes in buildings that were originally constructed by their ancestors around 1,000 years ago. It is the only living Native American community that is recognized as both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark, and it is also thought to be the longest continuously inhabited place in the United States.

Taos Pueblo, New Mexico

The most prominent structure at the Taos Pueblo is a multi-story complex of homes made from red adobe (earth mixed with water and straw). It is a custom within the Taos community not to divulge oral history to people outside their group, and they have no written language, so there are big gaps in the scholarly knowledge about them and their history. Even so, most archaeologists believe that the buildings were originally constructed between 1000 and 1450 CE. The walls are quite thick, often several feet, and the ceilings are made from local timber packed together with more packed dirt, the larger pieces of which are brought down from the forests in the mountains above. Originally, there were no doors to connect one dwelling to another, but each residence had to be entered from above on ladders that could be drawn up in case of an emergency. The walls are plastered with thin washes of local mud, darker on the outside, and white inside to reflect the light.

Taos Pueblo

Taos Pueblo, Taos, New Mexico

Taos Pueblo, NM

The pueblo is open to the public, and there are several public events over the course of the year that outsiders are welcome to attend. However, there are rules about visiting the community that they respectfully ask that visitors abide by. These include, among other things, no photographs of tribal members without their permission and only entering spaces clearly marked as commercial, since there are so many private residences on the premises. There are guided tours of the area available, and many other activities for visitors as well.

Taos Pueblo Cemetery

Taos Pueblo Cemetery

The area around Taos pueblo has likely been a travel and trading route for nearly 9,000 years, and that is still the case today. Near the pueblo is Taos Plaza, the heart of the Taos historic district. Here you can find shops, restaurants, galleries, and a farmers market, as well as live entertainment much of the year. Taos has a rich history of artists living and working in the area, and today there are many galleries and museums to showcase both native art and that of its more recent art traditions. There are also a plethora of workshops and retreats available in the area for anyone wanting to learn a new skill or relax a bit. For outdoor pursuits in the area, almost anything is available. You can do everything from horseback and llama treks to rafting, skiing, or yoga. And with around 300 days of sunshine a year, it’s unlikely your outdoor activities will be ruined by bad weather.

With such a rich history and a vibrant contemporary community, the Taos Pueblo is an amazing sight to behold, and celebrating the storied culture of such ancient people is a privilege that visitors can actively be a part of.

Taos Pueblo (UNESCO/NHK)

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