Catholic missionaries first settled the area that would become Albuquerque in the early 1600s. They found tribes of Pueblo Indians, who were indigenous to the area and who claimed much of the fertile land. After the Indian population declined, their land became available to the Spanish colonists. Colonial Governor Don Francisco Cuervo y Valdez founded Albuquerque in 1706. It was named in honor of Spain's 10th Duque de Alburquerque (the first "r" has since been dropped). The colonists chose a prize spot along the river where it provided good irrigation for crops, a rich source of wood from groves of cottonwoods, willows and olive trees, and a vista of the surrounding mountains.
Today, Albuquerque's proud history is apparent in the numerous cultural venues available. Residents and visitors alike can learn about the city's roots while visiting Old Town, historic Felipe de Neri Church, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Petroglyph National Monument, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and the Albuquerque Museum. Other interesting and popular attractions include the Rattlesnake Museum, the Turquoise Museum, the Albuquerque Aquarium, Lodestar Astronomy Center, the National Atomic Museum and the Rio Grande Zoo.
Surrounded by two glorious mountain ranges, Albuquerque is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Sandia Peak offers winter skiing and the Sandia Peak Ski and Tramway is a great 2.7-mile ride with a panoramic view of the city and the mountains. Near Albuquerque, the Manzano Mountain Wilderness is located on 36,000 acres of open land with 63 miles of trails. On the east, Sandia Mountain Wilderness offers 37,000 acres of wilderness with 117 miles of trails. Of course, there is golf. Albuquerque sports four municipal courses - Arroyo del Osa, Ladera, Los Altos and Puerto del Sol.
In addition to sublime recreation, distinct and affordable housing, ideal weather and unique, historical attractions, Albuquerque is home to some of the nation's finest high-tech research facilities, such as Sandia National Laboratory, Phillips Laboratory and the University of New Mexico. Intel Corporation also opened a new facility in the greater Albuquerque area. From 1706 to the new millennium, Albuquerque has made the transition from a quiet, Spanish village to a modern, urban city.
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