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Loretto Chapel, Santa Fe

4.4
#1 of 85 in Historic Sites in New Mexico
Must see · Religious Site · Historic Site
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Loretto Chapel, a former Roman Catholic church, is known for its unusual spiral staircase. Called the Miraculous Staircase, it makes two 360-degree turns and is 6 m (20 ft) tall--but has no visible means of support. It's not only an engineering mystery; no one knows for certain who built it. The Sisters of Loretto credit St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters, with its construction. After examining the staircase, give yourself enough time to appreciate the Gothic Revival architecture of this late 19th-century building. It features imposing spires, buttresses, and stained-glass windows imported from France. PutLoretto Chapel into our Santa Fe road trip website and find out what's close by, where to stay, and where to head next.
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Loretto Chapel reviews

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  • Admission is $4 for seniors, $5 regular. Beautiful interior and the staircase is amazing. There's a continuous recording running that describes the history of the church. 
    Admission is $4 for seniors, $5 regular. Beautiful interior and the staircase is amazing. There's a continuous recording running that describes the history of the church.  more »
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  • The Loretto Chapel has quite a unique history. Back when the chapel was constructed in 1878, the religious sisters of the Catholic church noticed there was no way to access the choir loft. They came to the conclusion that a regular staircase would be too big to fit the space. To find a solution, according to legend, the sisters prayed a holy novena to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. On the last day of the 9-day novena, a man appeared with a donkey and a box of tools looking for work. Months later, the unique spiral staircase was completed. Mysteriously, the carpenter left without a word before anyone could pay him for his work. The sisters could find no trace of this mystery man, and many thought it was St. Joseph himself that came to build the beautiful spiral staircase. This is the first mystery of the church. The other mystery related to the staircase is that the staircase has no visible support. It appears to hang in midair. It was made of an extinct wood species and constructed with only square wooden pegs without glue or nails. While you can no longer step on the staircase, you can take a look for yourself and see if you can uncover the mystery surrounding this staircase. While you’re here, check out the ornate stained glass in the Chapel. The glass came to the Chapel from Paris to New Orleans by sailing ship and then by paddle boat to St. Louis, Missouri, where it was then taken by covered wagon over the Old Santa Fe Trail to the Chapel. It’s a miracle the glass made it in one piece. The Loretto Chapel is now a museum and offers no masses, but the museum is open 364 days a year — every day except Christmas.
  • Small, quaint, sacred, beautiful, peaceful, nice service at the entrance, $5 so reasonable. The gift shop staff (a man who helped me find a Christmas ornament) was so kind and patient. In my opinion, an overall better experience than The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi because of the way we were able to sit down in the pews, close your eyes, rest and pray, but also because of the story of the staircase, AND the gift shops are so much better; they have more shops and they're more varied.

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