Coronado Historic Site
In 1540, Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, along with 300 soldiers and 800 Indian allies from New Spain, entered the middle Rio Grande Valley in search of the fabled Seven Cities of Gold. They camped near the Tiwa Indian pueblo of Kuaua, a prehistoric, multistory earthen community of 1,200 residents established about 1350 A.D.
In the 1930s, archaeologists from the Museum of New Mexico and elsewhere excavated the ruins. In the pueblo’s south plaza, they discovered a square kiva with 17 layers of painted wall murals. They also unearthed the pueblo’s first floor. Rather than subjecting the site’s coursed adobe ruins to the elements, workers carefully reburied them. They then built new adobe walls to outline the original pueblo layout.
In 1940, the pueblo of Kuaua was designated as a state monument, now known as Coronado Historic Site. Located in Bernalillo, the site includes partially reconstructed ruins of the ancient Pueblo of Kuaua. Well-preserved prehistoric murals are among the finest examples of pre-Columbian mural art in the United States. A visitor center designed by noted New Mexico architect John Gaw Meem highlights displays of prehistoric and historic Native American and Spanish colonial artifacts. A children’s wing with hands-on activities, interpretive trails, and spectacular views of the Sandia Mountains and the Rio Grande complete the unique visitor experience.
While the State of New Mexico provides funding for the ongoing preservation of the rare and fragile Kuaua Ruins, private contributions through the Museum of New Mexico Foundation are essential for supporting the site’s exhibitions and special projects.
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