La Villa Real de la Santa Fé de San Francisco de Asís

When a tiny settlement at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains became the capital of New Mexico in 1610, the newly appointed Spanish governor named it La Villa Real de Santa Fé – The Royal Town of Holy Faith. For many years thereafter, it was known simply as 'La Villa.' You may hear that the city's original name was actually La Villa Real de la Santa Fé de San Francisco de Asís – The Royal Town of the Holy Faith of St Francis of Assisi – but the exhaustively researched Place Names of New Mexico disagrees. Its author, Robert Julyan, suggests the St Francis part was tacked on much more recently, thanks to 'tourist romanticism.'