Sanctuario de Chimayo

The village of Chimayó in northern New Mexico is famous for its healing dirt and its weavers.

Chimayó’s church, the Santuario de Chimayó, is a Roman Catholic church that welcomes almost 300,000 visitors a year, and is also a pilgrimage site over Holy Week. The church has an attached small room off to the side that covers a deep hole in the dirt, filled with what is said to be healing dirt. In fact, the walls surrounding the dirt pit are lined with wheelchairs, canes, and crutches that have been discarded after healings. The church is open seven days a week from 9 to 5.

The church is not the only therapeutic object that can be found in the area. Anyone who has ever felt cold can speak to the instant warmth felt when a blanket is wrapped around their shoulders, and many humans would never have survived without the protection of a finely woven blanket or jacket.

Chimayó is known for a long history of weaving dating back to the 1700s. Settlers came into the village and used their weaving skill for clothing, household furnishings, and items to trade for other necessities. As part of the last frontier of New Spain, the new settlers had to be self-sufficient and made a life out of weaving and farming. Weaving patterns in the area are built around a distinctive style of two stripes with a center design. The specific style of weaving and type of loom can be traced back through families that have made Chimayó home for generations.

Art is also a form of therapy both for the creator and for the person who eventually purchases the creation. Art sparks imagination and dreams, both of which are needed for a healthy mind. Chimayó is home to art galleries with knowledgeable owners who are happy to share information with the guests that come their way.

The Ortega Family

Ortegas woven vests

Ortega’s Weaving Shop boasts fine wool that has been hand-woven in the “tradition of Gabriel Ortega.” The tradition has been passed down for nine generations. Visitors can see weavers using their skills in the old loom room onsite. Today, the showroom features blankets, coats, rugs, vests, purses, and cushions all woven in the distinct Chimayó style. Visitors will also find that most everything is created using five signature colors: white pearl, red chile, turquoise sky, black raven, and gray smoke. Collectors worldwide recognize the authenticity of the design and colors as part of New Mexican history. The showroom also features Indian jewelry and pottery from nearby pueblos. 

Throughout the years, the Ortega family has found many ways to sell and share their creations along with the creativity of other New Mexican artists. The family originally started selling their wares at a general store they opened in Chimayó in the early 1900s. In the mid-1970s, Ortega’s Weaving Shop, as it is known today, opened in Old Town Albuquerque. In the mid-1980s, Galería Ortega was opened in an old family home on the road to Chimayó as a modern general store. Galería Ortega was created as a way to highlight the arts and crafts of the people of New Mexico. Shoppers will find pottery, books, cards, t-shirts, Kachinas, and many gift options. Not to be missed are the New Mexico state cookies, bizcochitos, that melt in your mouth with flavors of cinnamon, sugar, and anise. 

Theresa's Art Gallery in Chimayo

Theresa’s Art Gallery & Studio

In 1987, Theresa Montoya was an artist with a dream. She was working as a medical assistant and she took a leap of faith as she quit her job to open an art gallery in her home. Today, Theresa’s Art Gallery, along the road to Chimayó, has one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted Northern New Mexico folk art. Theresa gleefully shares information about the creators of the wood carvings, jewelry, tin crafts, paintings, and religious art features in the gallery. Stopping here is more than just a place to shop, it is a full experience. 

Trujillo’s Weaving Shop

Trujillo's Weaving in Chimayo

Family businesses abound in the Chimayó area. Visitors and locals alike can find handwoven Spanish Colonial textile products at Trujillo’s Weaving Shop. The shop does not have a website but do not let that dissuade you from stopping in. This is an authentic shop built upon word-of-mouth and quality of product. Irvin Trujillo is a seventh generation weaver who was a 2007 National Heritage Fellow. In 2015 he won the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. His work can be found in museums throughout the country. The shop is located at 814 State Road 76 in Chimayó. 

Where to Stay in Chimayó

Book a stay at Casa Escondida when visiting Chimayó. Each of the nine guest rooms boasts a traditional New Mexican decor. The innkeepers are also fans of Chimayó Weaving techniques and feature a history of the style on their website blog. Read more about the innkeepers at Casa Escondida!