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Review: Explore the frights of ABQ's Old Town

Albuquerque’s Old Town is a site of rich historical significance dating back to the city’s inception in the early 18th century. Beautiful plazas, churches and shops riddle the area, making it a tourist magnet.

Despite this beauty there’s a sinister undercurrent bubbling beneath the jovial surface of Old Town.

The Mexican-American War and the American Civil War both touched the town, leaving its people and businesses with pervasive scars — and possibly ghosts.

Following the development of newer, better territories nearby, the little area sunk into economic and social decline, turning it into a veritable ghost town before being annexed back into the city in the 20th century.

The echoes of long lost people can still be felt when wandering around Old Town.

A long time ago I was subject to inexplicable feelings of deep emotional discomfort when helping my mom with some errands around one of the area’s churches. Terrible murders, tragic suicides and wartime troubles have left lasting spiritual impressions, and the Ghost Tour of Old Town provides some interesting cultural insight into them.

In cool, fresh air, free from the typical crowds that swarm Old Town during the day, the Ghost Tour of Old Town is a chilling way to experience the area for tourists and residents alike.

The encouragement of photography by tour guides makes documenting your experiences a fun, potentially frightening way to share with others what things you may see from the netherworld.

If you really want to see a ghost, keep in mind the Ghost Tour of Old Town was awarded the title of “Best of Burque” and named the best place to see a ghost by Alibi Magazine in 2014. Starting at 8 p.m. every night, tourists are taken around the Old Town block through alleyways, buildings and other historic sites.

Trained, authorized guides detail the horrific tragedies that have spilled across the area with supplementary video and audio for presentations of proof and other expert opinions.

The 90-minute trek passes through a lot of unobvious and intimate places one would likely miss on a casual trip through the area. The guides offer a lot of historical information about the buildings and the people that have inhabited them, dead or alive.

I discovered details I’ve never noticed before in my 17 years in Albuquerque, so it’s a great tour for its cultural value, spooks aside. The fact that different areas are explored with every tour is a bonus for repeat customers.

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Despite its reliance on historical storytelling, this is by no means a boring experience.

While it is quieter than jump-scare filled haunted houses, and even though I never saw anything paranormal, chills ran down my back with every new history told — especially when I was left to my own thoughts following a guide’s presentation.

Though I haven’t attended one, moonlit tours are probably the definitive way to experience Old Town. The tours begin at 10 p.m., and if your schedule lines up with a full moon, it’s even better. Moonlight is said to awaken a deep spiritual connection within people, sort of a heightened sensitivity to things beyond the visible spectrum.

While friendly enough for people of all ages, my brother’s experience 10 years back is a testament to the tour’s ability to terrify more sensitive people.

The social aspect of the tour is somewhat of a toss-up — sometimes you’ll get a cool group, other times not. Private tours are only given in October for groups of 20 or more, and I would recommend them if you’ve got enough people to stomach the trip.

With historical significance, expert tour guidance and an alternate take on the popular tourist spot, the Ghost Tour of Old Town offers a personal, cultured time with a supernatural atmosphere. I highly recommend the experience.

Hector Valverde is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He primarily writes movie reviews. He can be contacted at or on Twitter @hpvalverde.

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