Visit 5 of Santa Fe New Mexico’s sister cities

Have you heard of Sister Cities International (SCI)? Santa Fe, New Mexico had. The City Different is an active member of to this organization created by President Dwight D Eisenhower in 1956. Their mission: to advance “peace and prosperity through cultural, educational, humanitarian, and economic development exchanges.” SCI works to help cities around the world forge friendships and works to foster respect between these vastly different communities and cultures. Santa Fe’s 10 sister cities straddle the globe. There is at least one each in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America. Here are five you may want to visit.

Santa Fe de la Vega, Spain

Isabela I with Christopher Columbus, monument was made by Mariano Benlliure in 1892, Granada Spain, Copyright: Neirfy

Isabela I with Christopher Columbus, monument was made by Mariano Benlliure in 1892, Granada Spain, Copyright: Neirfy

One of Santa Fe’s sister cities is Santa Fe de la Vega in Spain. It was built as a fortified encampment by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella’s army during the Grenada War in the late 15th century. It was built in less than three months. This military camp later became Santa Fe. The city holds immense historical significance for the New World. It was there that Christopher Columbus met his patrons, Ferdinand and Isabella, to discuss funding for his expedition across the Atlantic Ocean. You can still visit some of the original fortifications from that encampment. Three of the four original gates; Loja, Granada, and Seville remain. They were restored in the 18th century. Another interesting site in the city is the historic Ermita de los Gallegos, a church dating to 1496.

Holguin, Cuba

Beach at Guardalavaca, Holguin, Cuba, Copyright: Vojko Kavcic

Beach at Guardalavaca, Holguin, Cuba, Copyright: Vojko Kavcic

Travel to Cuba for US citizens has been in the news lately. Santa Fe has a sister city there. Holguin offers visitors stunning views of mountain landscapes with pristine beaches and crystalline Caribbean waters beyond. Christopher Columbus once said that the the scenery around Holguin was “the most beautiful land eyes have ever seen.”

Holguin, Cuba’s fourth largest city, is a cultural center full of activities and attractions for travelers. Much of the colonial architecture of the city has been preserved; the plazas and old neighborhoods offer wonderful walking options. Additionally, Holguin’s beaches offer plenty of opportunities for sunning and swimming, as well as snorkeling and diving amidst a variety of marine life just offshore.

At the moment, US citizens may only travel to Cuba on cultural and educational tours. Regulations have been relaxed to allow Americans to fly into Cuba legally through other countries.

San Miguel de Allende

Calle Aldama in San Miguel De Allende, photo Billie Frank

Calle Aldama in San Miguel De Allende, photo/Billie Frank

San Miguel de Allende (SMA) and Santa Fehare a lot in common. Both are high desert towns surrounded by mountains. Tourists flock to both cities to see their Spanish Colonial architecture, the great local shops, the food and the art. In addition, both have weekend festivals celebrating their cultural heritage. The difference is SMA celebrations are more vibrant with lots of music in the streets and fireworks. Both cities have attracted artists for decades. San Miguel has attracted American and Canadian expats since the end of World War II. Many came to study art at the city’s art school. If you love Santa Fe, chances are you’ll fall in love with San Miguel de Allende.

Icheon, South Korea

Traditional Pot, Icheon, Korea, Copyright wizdata1

Traditional Pot, Icheon, Korea, Copyright wizdata1

Icheon, South Korea is known for ceramics. is a designated UNESCO City of Crafts and Folk Arts. Pottery making here dates back over 5,000 years ago. During the long Joseon Dynasty, 1392 to 1910, the city became a prominaent pottery because of its proximity to the raw materials needed. Today, Icheon Ceramics Village, with over 80 pottery factories with more than 300 kilns, continues to produce traditional Baekja, Buncheong and Cheongja as well as contemporary pieces. Want to learn how to make pottery? Travelers to Icheon can tour the The Haegang Ceramics Museum, Korea’s first one dedicated to pottery as well as the World Ceramics Center with its four galleries and research facilities. Icheon hosts both the World Ceramic Biennale, and the annual Icheon Ceramic Festival. If you’re a pottery lover, plan your visit around one of these events.

Livingstone, Zambia

Monument to Dr. Livingstone near Victoria Falls - Zambia, Zimbabwe, Copyright Vadim Petrakov

Monument to Dr. Livingstone near Victoria Falls - Zambia, Zimbabwe, Copyright Vadim Petrakov

Livingstone, Zambia was named for famed Scottish missionary, doctor, and explorer, Dr. David Livingstone; the man who was the subject of explorer Henry Stanley’s famous words, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” Livingstone is believed to be the first European to view the majestic Victoria Falls. He discovered them in 1855 and named them for Britain’s queen. In 1900 Europeans established the settlement called Livingstone. With the 1905 opening of the Victoria Falls Bridge the city experienced a brief boom; for a while it was even the capitol city. Today, it primarily serves as a gateway to Victoria Falls, a few hours away. While visiting the city, don’t miss the market, a bustling place full of people buying and selling. Another must-see: the Livingstone Museum, with its collection of prehistoric Zambia’s artifacts as well as items that once belonged to Dr. Livingstone.

Want to visit any of Santa Fe’s sister cities? Keep an eye out for great deals on The best news? You don’t have to live in Santa Fe, NM to visit these diverse cities around the world.

Editor’s note: All photos used in this post were purchased from the online photo service Shutterstock.


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