While the United States may not have the very old buildings that one sees in many other places in the world - like those in Europe and especially the Middle East, it does have some respectably old buildings. The Palace of The Governors in Santa Fe has now stood for over 400 years and by some definitions is the oldest building in the United States.

In this article, we will only consider Post Columbian buildings and not the much older Cliff Palace or houses of the Pueblo or other American Indians. If one has the chance, one should visit the ancient ruins of the Pueblo. Cliff Palace is in the Mesa Verde National Park and was the largest cliff dwelling in North America.

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Older Buildings In Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico was annexed by the United States in 1898 but it was never incorporated as a state. Today Puerto Rico remains an unincorporated territory of the United States. If one considers Puerto Rico to be the United States, then the oldest buildings in the country are actually there. In that case, the oldest buildings are:

  • San Jose Church: Built in 1532, It is Part of the San Juan National Historic Site
  • La Fortaleza: Built 1533, Part of the San Juan National Historic Site And The Oldest Executive Mansion In The Western Hemisphere
  • Castillo San Felipe Del Morro: Built 1539, Part of the San Juan National Historic Site
  • Cathedral of San Juan Bautista: Built 1540, Originally Built 1521 Making It The Oldest Church Building In The USA
  • Porta Coeli: Built 1609, It Another Church In Puerto Rico

Related: Est. 1673! Grab A Beer At "America’s Oldest Tavern” In Rhode Island

The Palace Of The Governors In New Mexico

When it comes to the United States proper, the oldest (post-Columbian) building was also built by the Spanish - the Spanish just go to the Americas first. The Palace of the Governors in New Mexico was built in 1610 and is the oldest public building in continuous use in the continental United States.  Like Puerto Rico, it was annexed later on, but unlike Puerto Rico, New Mexico became an integral part of the United States.

  • Built: 1610

The United States took over this part of New Mexico with the Mexican Concession of 1848 - meaning that for the first 238 years of its existence, it was not an American building. It was built by the Spanish for colonial administration and has seen extensive modification over the centuries.

In addition to its Spanish colonial role, it was also associated with the Pueblo Revolt of 1680–1692, the period of Mexican rule from 1821 to 1848, the settlement as an American territory from 1848 to 1912, and then the statehood for New Mexico from 1912 to now.

In 1909 it was designated as the home for the Museum of New Mexico.

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  • Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Listed: A National Historic Landmark And As A National Treasure

The Palace of the Governors is a modest building. It is only a single story is and is an adobe structure.

Visiting The Palace of The Governors

Today one can find Native American artisans selling their handmade jewelry and other crafts there. Behind its adobe walls are interpretive galleries, the Palace Press, and a large courtyard. The courtyard connects the building with the rest of the museum campus.

Winter Hours (November to April):

  • Tuesday To Sunday: 10.00 am to 5.00 pm
  • Monday: Closed
  • Friday: Open To 7.00 pm On The First Friday Of Each Month

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Admission: 

  • New Mexico Residents: $7 Per Person
  • Nonresidents: $12 Per Person
  • Children: Aged 16 and Under Always Free

If one can not visit Santa Fe, then there are live Docent-led virtual tours that one can register for on the New Mexico History Museum website.

Related: Est. 705 AD! This Japanese Inn Is Officially The Oldest Hotel In The world

Tours Of The Palace of The Governors And Historic Santa Fe

Ordinarily, there are tours by Museum Docents who provide tours of the museum. However, as at the time of writing these are not being offered due to safety measures from the pandemic.

Historic Downtown Walking Tours: Santa Fe is the nation's oldest capital city and the historic downtown walking tour really works to bring the 400 years of history, culture, and architecture to life. The tours cover everything from the ancient Pueblos to the atomic age.

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The Historic Downtown Walking Tours is a program of Friends of History, a volunteer support group for the New Mexico History Museum.

There are two-hour guided tours available by reservation only. More information can be found on the Friends of History website.

Fee:

  • Adults: $20 For Adults 18 And Over
  • Children: $10 For Children Aged 8 to 17
  • Kids: Under 8 Are Free

While in New Mexico, another fun activity is to go UFO hunting in the alien-theme Roswell in New Mexico. New Mexico is an interesting state with stunning nature and rich history just waiting to be discovered.

Next: This Is What Happened To Pecos Pueblo, And Why You Should See It For Yourself