Santa Fe, New Mexico

Architectural Terminology Relevant to Santa Fe, New Mexico


Typical Santa Fe Architecture--Photograph Copyright Berenguela/2007

Architectural and Topographical Terminology Relevant to Santa F, New Mexico

Acequia: Man-made irrigation ditch

Adobe: Mud brick that is dried in the sun; the first adobe bricks were used 8,500 years ago in the Middle East.

Alameda: tree-shaded promenade or public park; Spanish for cottonwood tree

Arroyo: Dry riverbed that occasionally fills with water from rains and run-off

Aspen: High-elevation deciduous tree with leaves that turn a brilliant gold in the fall--closely resembles birch

Banco: A bench made of adobe and covered with plaster

Bosque: Low-lying area near a river densely forested with cottonwoods and other deciduous trees

Calle: Street in Spanish

Camino: Road in Spanish

Canale: A roof spout that carries water off of a flat pueblo roof

Cerro: Hill

Chamiso: An evergreen shrub in the rose family that turns a golden color in the fall

Coping: Decorative detail on the top edge of a building and around doors and windows

Corbel: Short, sculpted beam lying on top of a post or a wall

Coved Ceiling: A ceiling in which the part next to the wall is constructed in a cove

Cuesta: A ridge with a gentle slope on one side, and a cliff on the other

Escarpment Ordinances: Laws in the Santa Fe area prohibiting building and excavation of mountainsides beyond a certain steepness

Farolito: "Little lantern" in Spanish--typically a paper bag with a sand ballast and candle lit for Christmas

Flagstone: Flat sheets of stone mined locally, used for flooring in homes and patios--see photo at bottom of page


Historic Style Ordinances: Regulations governing the architectural style of all buildings within the Historic Districts of Downtown Santa Fe

Horno: Freestanding adobe bread oven found at most pueblos and Indian homes

Juniper Tree: High desert evergreen that seldom grows more than 15 feet tall

Kiva: Traditional round, flat-roofed religious chamber found in Indian pueblos

Kiva Fireplace: A beehive-shaped fireplace

La Fonda: "The Hotel" in Spanish

La Posada: "The Inn" in Spanish

Latillas (lah-TEE-yahss): Small branches used as ceiling planking, made of aspen, pine or cedar--sometimes used to extend the height of adobe wall-enclosures. See photo above for an excellent example of latillas incorporated in a Santa Fe ceiling.

Lintel: Wooden beam bridging window or door openings

Mesa: Flat top mountain called a table in Spanish

Nicho: Small shelf carved into a wall--see photo below.

Paraje: "Place" in Spanish

Parapet: A low wall extending above the roof line in Pueblo style architecture

Paseo: Passage or walkway; "Promenade" in Spanish

Pion Tree: High-desert, nut-bearing evergreen tree

Plaza: Public square in the center of town; the site of traditional evening paseo or promenade

Portal (por-TALL): Patio attached to a home, covered with a fixed roof supported by posts

Puerta: "Door" in Spanish

Ristra: A string of drying (or dried) red chiles--see photo below

Saltillo Tile: Simple fired-earth tile made in Saltillo, Mexico

Stucco: Final cement color-coat plastered on the exterior of an adobe-style building

Talavera Tile: Colorful hand-decorated Mexican tile used for countertops and trim

Ventana: "Window" in Spanish

Viga: Round log used as ceiling beam; see photo above for an excellent example of a traditional Santa Fe ceiling with vigas and latillas.

~~Copyright Berenguela/Spanish Santa Fe.Com 2007

Photo copyright Berenguela Bubita/Spanish Santa Fe 2007

Un Nicho