Mesilla Plaza and Mesilla Historic District

Quick Facts
Mesilla, New Mexico
Historic town on El Camino Real
National Historic landmark; certified site
City of Mesilla

Food/Drink - Restaurant/Table Service, Gifts/Souvenirs/Books

In 1849, Valentin Maese erected a two-room home for his family just east of what would become the formal plaza in the small Mexican village of Mesilla. Maese’s vertical log and adobe plaster jacal was simple and practical, joining other jacales built along the plaza perimeter as a means of community defense. Established on Mexico’s northern frontier in 1848, west of the Rio Grande and El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, Mesilla was an easy target for Apache Indian attacks. Even so, Maese and Mesilla’s other proud pioneering families would rather risk raids than lose their cultural identities as Mexicans after the 1846 Mexican-American War left their former homelands in U.S. hands. 

In addition to El Camino Real, the town’s trade connections were maintained through a variety of stage, freight and mail routes, including the Butterfield Overland Mail, San Antonio Mail and Wells Fargo Express. 

Unlike many Camino Real communities that have withered through time, Mesilla remains a vital voice and vision of the Mesilla Valley’s unique political, cultural, commercial and social past. While most plaza buildings are dedicated to tourist activities, historic preservation regulations ensure that they and other structures in the historic district continue to speak to Mesilla’s distinctive architectural history. Equally important is the town’s ongoing observance of cultural traditions and customs. They flow through daily life on the plaza and in the historic district, from the acequias through the pecan groves, to the barns, businesses and homes where local families, many of them descendants of the original founders, continue to work and live.

Site Information

Location (Mesilla, New Mexico)

Available Facilities
Today the historic La Mesilla Plaza welcomes trail travelers to enjoy its hospitality and culture.

Safety Considerations

More Site Information

El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail

El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail

Last updated: January 16, 2023