Native American peoples had lived in what is now the US state of New Mexico for centuries before European settlers arrived. Albuquerque, with one of the highest elevations of any major city in the US, was founded as a Spanish colonial outpost in 1706. They built its Old Town, which remained a separate community after the American occupation of New Mexico in the mid 19th century.


In the 1920s Old Town became part of Albuquerque. Since then, this atmospheric area has become home to restaurants, museums, shops and galleries. There are also quiet hidden patios, gardens and balconies to admire. Typical local foods blend Spanish, Mexican and Native American flavours. Signature ingredients are red and green chili peppers. Freshly roasted green chili or red chili sauce are staples in savoury foods. Desserts are no exception to the rule: pumpkin green chili pepper pie, red chili brownies, or apple pie with green chili are local favourites.


In the 1920s, dozens of places to stay, eat, be entertained or buy souvenirs were set up in Albuquerque to cater to travellers looking for work or to do business along Route 66. The KiMo Theater is a theatre and historic landmark in the city. The art-deco style building was revived in the late 1970s after it fell into disrepair. Other live music or performance venues in the city include Isleta Amphitheater, Tingley Coliseum and Sunshine Theater. Other points of interest include the Albuquerque Museum, New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.



The landscape in New Mexico is diverse and includes deeply forested mountains and the vast desert of White Sands National Monument. The best way to experience it is from the sky. Every October, over 500 hot air balloons and tens of thousands of fans gather for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Alternatively, the nearby Sandia Peak Tramway is a long passenger aerial tramway that stretches from the northeast edge of the city up 3,100 metres to the Sandia Mountains.


During World War II, New Mexico was a centre of military research and production. The top-secret Manhattan Project employed brilliant US scientists who raced to create the first atomic bomb. It was first tested in July 1945 at the Trinity Bomb Site, now a National Historic Site. In 1947, Roswell, New Mexico became a topic of speculation about extraterrestrial life when a local farmer discovered ‘unidentified’ debris on his property. While the US military later claimed that it was the remains of a nuclear test surveillance balloon, conspiracy theories still fly about alien spacecraft debris and a US military cover up.