Tlaquepaque literally means “the best of everything” in the ancient language of the Aztecs, the Nahuatl Native Indian language. The Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Shopping village in Sedona is a maze that contains over 50 specialty shops and galleries with quirky finds for everyone. It is known for it’s arts and crafts, but it does have restaurants and even a chapel. The treasures range from boxes of Havana cigars to a blend of pipe tobacco just arrived from England, paintings, artists at work, jewelry stores, clothing boutiques, silk vests, crystals, south-western items, galleries, candles, soaps, leather goods, and more. But what did it for me was the architecture and flavor of Old Mexico entrenched throughout. It may feel like this village has been here forever, but in reality it was built in 1971.
– History –
Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Shopping village was started by Abe Miller, a Nevada real estate developer who came across Sedona while on vacation. He had a passion for Mexico and was seeking a place to bring to life what he loved so much about Mexico closer to home. When he came across the plot of land near Oak creek, he knew this was the place where he’d build an enchanting arts village that reflected the charm and mood of Old Mexico. Influenced by the lively and creative arts scene Tlaquepaque in Guadalajara, he created Tlaquepaque in Sedona with the idea of allowing visitors to take a look into the artisans world on full display.
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– Architecture –
As I said, the architecture is what gets me here. Abe Miller apparently flew planes all over Mexico and ventured into small villages photographing, sketching and documenting the look and feel of the material, their structural components, and the overall flow and design so that he could bring the same feel to life at Tlaquepaque in Sedona. They paid attention to every detail from how the patios and courtyards were structured, to the tiled walls, stucco walls, intricate ironwork, cobblestone walkways, overhanging balconies, to the flow out of the plazas to the Spanish Colonial architecture. Careful attention was also paid to how the natural elements – trees, gardens, and fountains – shaped social interaction in these public spaces.
While they extensively researched everything, ironically Abe Miller gave the workers creative liberty to build the space however they saw fit. The one caveat was that they had to work around the beautiful sycamore groves. Nothing was sketched out on paper or explained to them. He would essentially hire stonemasons who were not professionals and give them artistic freedom to create and build the walls however they saw fit. That’s what gives it that authenticity and charm.
As you walk around, the sound of music and cascading fountains flood the open air courtyards. The architecture was so thought out, that the way the sun breaks through certain angles of the village seem unreal. Green vines, honeysuckle, ivy, and silver lace crawl across the walls and archways giving it a feel of being engulfed into it’s natural surroundings. It reminded me of Altos de Chavon at Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic? Yes – it felt a bit Disneyland-ish. But I actually felt like it had a little more history and a story to tell…! The iron grillwork you see, the enormous carved doors, the handmade lanterns, clay pots and benches? All those items actually were transported to Sedona from Mexico. That’s why it feels like there is a genuine feel to the spirits of Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Shopping village.
Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Shopping village is indeed the best of everything. We hurried away from the plaza into the twisted lanes of shops, wandering deeper into the shopping village.
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– Shops –
This is the sort of place where you need to come with a budget in mind or you can do some serious damage to your wallet. Everything here looks artisanal, unique, and like it has a sense of place. Everything is rooted in the culture and history of Sedona and Native American tribes from the area. If you know me, I get excited over small things, so I kept elbowing Patrick left and right, pointing out small trinkets that were so cool, unique, weird etc. Should I get it? Do we need it? Where would I put it? All these questions were quickly halted by price tags. But god do I wish I had the $$s to spend…You could find everything from affordable soaps and crystal candles, to statues and artwork that cost 3-months rent.
There are a few breakfast spots, coffee shops, and restaurants in the area. We stopped for breakfast at The Secret Garden Cafe before Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Shopping Village opened up. If you look hard enough, you can find some unique places. There was this one Chai-themed coffee shop with a very whimsical, yoga-esque, hippy outdoor area that looked like the perfect spot to sip a cup of coffee and read a book or blog. Short on time, we didn’t stop, but this is where you’d find me if I had more time.
Next time your in Sedona, stop by this village. But don’t get there too early, Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts village shops are open from 10AM – 6PM. The only exception is a restaurant called El Rincon that stays open till 9PM.
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