Abó Ruins


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.



Kiva in foreground on the east side of the church






34 thoughts on “Abó Ruins

    • Thanks, Juliette! There are three ruins in this area which make up the Salinas Pueblo Missions. I’ll be posting photos of Quarai later this week. The third mission is Gran Quivira but we didn’t have time to go to Gran Quivira that Sunday. If you are in Albuquerque on your trip next summer, and have a few minutes, we should have coffee and visit a little.

  1. Beautiful photos, Timothy! Looks like wide open country around Abó where one can see the weather come in from miles away. Must be interesting to stand on that ground, and feel the history surrounding one.

    • Thanks, Lavinia! Ruins like these are the closest things we have to castles out here. Those Franciscan priests were excellent architects and quite innovative in how they built large churches using sandstone. The churches had flat roofs like the pueblo buildings, which mush have been both design and engineering challenges for people used to building with marble and having vaulted ceilings and steeply pitched roofs on their church buildings.

  2. These photos are so interesting and powerful, Tim. Many centuries have passed and the ruins still tell their story. Thank you for sharing them.

    • Thanks Juanita! It’s interesting to see how the Spaniards adapted their European style architecture to the available building materials and blended it with the pueblo’s architecture.

  3. I posted a few days ago about how I wished we had ancient castles and castle ruins in the States like they do in Europe. Man, this comes pretty close. Wonderful photos. That big sky looming over the ruins really instills a deep spiritual vibe.

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