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Rio Arriba History & Culture

Rio Arriba County was one of the original counties established in 1852. Some of the richest genealogical history and historical sites are located in Rio Arriba. Don Juan de Onate first came to New Mexico (Nuevo Mexico) in 1592 and established the first Capital of New Mexico in Yunque Yunque. This Capital was located on the west side of the Rio Grande by Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo (formerly known as San Juan Pueblo). After the Pueblo Revolt in 1670 and the return by Don Diego DeVargas the Capital was reestablished in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Rio Arriba is home to three major pueblos, Santa Clara, Ohkay Owingeh and Dulce pueblos.
El Santuario de Chimayo is one of their most famous churches visited by many for its healing powers. Pilgrimages by thousands of locals and new comers take place during Holy Week from as far off as Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and other places.
Santa Cruz de la Canada Parish and St. John the Baptist Parish (San Juan de los Caballeros) are two of the oldest established Catholic parishes in Rio Arriba. Some of the most beautiful artwork of Santos and carvings can be viewed at these churches.

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