How Santa Fe Got Its Name

Santa Fe has the distinction of being the first “official” Santa Fe in North America. The city’s name has great historic significance. In 1491 Queen Isabel of Castile gave that name to the newly constructed town near Granada. Located in the Andalusian region of Spain she and King Ferdinand held court during the re-conquest of Spain. Finally, after eight hundred years the Moorish occupation ended. This event marked the beginning of the Christian civilization of Spain.

Longest War in Recorded History

From 718 AD through 1492, the Spanish and the Moors battled over territory and religious dominance. Since it had been a crusade of the cross against the Moors, Isabel refused to have the newly constructed town named in her honor, preferring to call it Santa Fe de la Vega. Two more cities in Spain were also given that name: Santa Fe del Penedés in the region of Barcelona, and Santa Fe de Mondújar in the province of Almería. 

City of Holy Faith

Santa Fe, which is Spanish for “Holy Faith,” was a popular name during the rush of Spanish occupation all over the Americas as they laid claim to new territory. Today, 137 cities around the world have the name Santa Fe. In 2005 New Mexico gained the distinction of having its capital city, Santa Fe, designated as America’s first United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Creative City. My hometown may have been fourth in the royal lineup during Queen Isabela’s day, but today “our” Santa Fe is top of the list as a place to visit.

Please support Ana Pacheco's work at:

Buy Me a Coffee

Our nation’s history would not be complete without the story of Santa Fe. Experience the ultimate Santa Fe tour with local historian Ana Pacheco.