The Spanish came into the Salinas Valley to the east of the Rio Grande Valley in what is now central New Mexico in 1581. The Franciscans began Christianizing the residents of Abó in 1622 and built their first church in the last half of the 1620’s. The remains of the second church built at Abó (pictured) have a sophisticated buttressing to stabilize the high walls that was very unusual for architecture in this area in the 1600’s. Abó was abandoned between 1672 and 1678 after a series of disasters struck the Salinas Valley.
A couple notable features about these ruins are 1) the church is oriented north and south instead of the east/west orientation commonly found in old and new Catholic churches in New Mexico. 2) There is a kiva on the east side of the church. Kivas are used by the Pueblo Indians for rituals and spiritual ceremonies generally associated with the Kachina belief. While the Spanish christianized the residents, they also let them practice their own rituals and spiritual ceremonies.