Black and white photo of adobe church
Architecture,  New Mexico,  Travel galleries

Gallery: San Francisco de Asis, Ranchos de Taos

The San Francisco de Asis Church may be made of adobe like many others in the region, but its appearance is very different. Its thick walls with their jutting buttresses look more like a fortification than a place of worship, while its massive bulk seems completely out of proportion to the small community it was built to serve.

But this becomes less surprising when you understand its origins. It was built to resist unwanted attacks from aggressive tribes such as the local Apaches. The tamped-earth buttresses were further added to in order to strengthen the walls when threatened by floods and erosion. San Francisco de Asis has stood for over 250 years and is still an active church.

This church provokes a range of responses in observers. Some find its so-solid bulk and heaviness off-putting. But for many, especially artists, it has been a source of inspiration. Georgia O’Keeffe painted it several times, and Ansel Adams photographed it – brilliantly. As an admirer of the latter’s work, following in his footsteps and attempting to capture San Francisco de Asis on camera was quite a challenge, but one I thoroughly enjoyed. The light was great, with just a few white clouds and the sun low enough to create some interesting shadows.

Unfortunately we were less successful in our attempts to see inside the church. A sign said that it was closed for cleaning and would re-open later in the afternoon. So we spent some time taking photos of some pretty houses in the area immediately around the church; visited an interesting shop which had a display of photos taken when ‘Easy Rider’ was being filmed in the area; had a cold drink in one of the nearby cafés, and came back – only to find it still closed.

With time getting on, and still not checked into our Taos accommodation, we decided reluctantly that we would have to give up, so we left without ever getting to see the interior. A shame; but to be honest it was the exterior I most wanted to see, having seen it already through Adams’ eyes, so at least I was happy to have done that much.

Adobe building with blue window frame and flowers
Houses near the church
Corner of a window with painted flowers

We visited New Mexico in 2011. For more about that trip see In search of Billy the Kid, and Meeting Leo


      • Sarah Wilkie

        It’s New Mexico Ruth 🙂 I did categorise and tag it as such, and mention it in the footnote, but I guess if you didn’t know Taos you could get confused 🙃 It’s a wonderful state to explore, with so much variety! I’ve never been to Mexico but would love to go one day.

  • Easymalc

    I also prefer the new theme Sarah, but, like Albert, I wouldn’t choose a pink background – but that’s just a personal choice of course. It’s probably the masculine side of us coming out. It’s easier on the eye I feel and you’ve also included some practical touches that were missing before. These things take time to evolve don’t they?

    As for the gallery, I think I’ve seen some of these pictures before on your travelogues, but it’s nicely presented here in its new home. Well done, it’s looking very professional.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thanks Malcolm 🙂 Yes, you’ll probably have seen these photos in a TravellersPoint blog some time back and/or on VT as I would have reviewed the church there.

      As to the theme, I’ll reconsider the pink – I’d hoped it was pale enough not to look too ‘girly’ but I guess not if both you and Albert have reservations 😉 Otherwise, yes, I was aiming for clarity and also for more flexibility – there are post/page layout options that I plan to explore for sharing my photos in particular. And my other theme didn’t have previous/next buttons, even if I’d invested in the pro version. The menu is better in this theme too – the other one didn’t show all the sub-categories.

      • Easymalc

        It’s what you like really Sarah as regards colour, but regardless of what people tell us how we should think these days, pink and blue still have gender connotations, or at least they do to me. I still can’t get my head around male rugby teams playing in pink 🙂

        • Sarah Wilkie

          Well, I’ve changed it to something more ‘gender-neutral’ (tested on Chris!) and I think I like having a darker shade, especially on the home page 🙂

          • Easymalc

            I’ve just seen it and instantly preferred it. it might be worth experimenting a bit more until you’re completely satisfied. It pays to get it as near as right as possible before going ahead too far because there’s nothing worse than having to keep going backwards. I hope that makes sense.

  • starship VT

    Churches are usually some of my favorite places to explore while traveling because of their exterior architecture and the artistic character of the interiors whether polished or primitive. I quite like the exterior of this church. Lovely photos, Sarah! A shame you weren’t able to see the inside. If I could crowd my 2021 calendar with trips, I think visiting New Mexico would be on the list. And I’d still like to revisit San Antonio, TX, and the mission churches there.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Oh yes, I remember reading about your Texas trip and seeing all your photos – it made me aware that it’s another state we would enjoy exploring one day, especially San Antonio 🙂 And thank you for the compliment on the photos 😀

  • mtncorg

    It is actually very nice and primitive inside. The other churches on the High Road from Santa Fe are super to see, as well.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Yes, we visited a number of those on this particular day, taking that route from Santa Fe to Taos – Chimayo, Truchas, Trampas and Picuris. But only Chimayo was open.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you Margaret 🙂 Yes, I do get frustrated when I travel at the large number of probably attractive churches that I can’t get inside! And also when I can get inside but am not allowed to photograph them 😉

  • Nemorino

    I’m also a fan of Ansel Adams photography. And I like your new theme — very clear and easy to read.

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