Don Juan de Onate led an effort to colonize the region in 1598. This established the area as Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico, set up for New Spain as a province. He and his son established the capital to be San Juan de los Caballeros, which was just north of Santa Fe. The second governor of New Mexico, Don Pedro de Peralta, founded another new city near the base of the Mountains in 1607, naming it after Saint Francis of Assis.
In 1610, Don Pedro de Peralta made this location the province’s capital, partly because of where it was situated. This has been constant and is the oldest state capital in the U.S. Jamestown, VA has a similar history but it is no longer the capital of Virginia. San Juan, Puerto Rico is older, but is not a state. Santa Fe is also the third oldest surviving city in the U.S. that was founded by colonists from Europe – behind St. Augustine, Florida.
During the Pueblo Revolt from 1680-1692, the city was abandoned because of Indian raids. Later, the area was conquered again by Don Diego de Vargas and Santa Fe remained a provincial seat for Spain until the Mexican War of Independence took place in 1810. In 1824, Santa Fe was named as the capital for the Mexican territory of Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico and it was formalized in their 1824 Constitution.