Santa Fe’s Chapel of Light is designed to inspire a sense of unity across peoples and beliefs, and features a naturally occurring solstice lightshow.
Chapel of Light at Rivera Family Funeral Home
SANTA FE, NM
Contemporary installations based on archaeo-astronomy are rare; however, Santa Fe’s Chapel of Light at Rivera Family Funeral Home is one of the hidden gems of the genre, located at one of the last places one might expect to find a miraculous space.
Designed by Jon Dick of Archaeo Architects—and inspired by the works of Tadao Ando, Mario Botta, and James Turrell—the circular sacred space is designed to inspire a sense of unity across peoples and beliefs, and features a naturally occurring solstice lightshow based on the same principles used in the equinox alignments at Pueblo Bonito at Chaco Canyon.
At the summer and winter solstices, the first rays of the morning sun align with tiny windows in the seven-foot-thick battered walls, allowing a single beam of light to pass across the interior and across a stunning orange stone water feature in the center of the space. The display imbues the space with a connection to place and time that is quite magical, and can be experienced in public solstice ceremonies offered by the funeral home.
If you are not traveling at the solstices, the extraordinary contemporary architectural space is still quite spectacular, illuminated with colorful changing mood lights, and decorated with details of the Flower of Life motif, including on the oculus skylight. After your visit, if you are still longing to explore dramatic sacred spaces, visit the Eldorado Hotel’s impressive contemporary La Capilla de Oro Chapel and the historic Loretto Chapel’s famous “miraculous staircase.”
View a video of the sun movement at bit.ly/chapel-light.