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Holy Stairs (Scala Sancta) and Chapel of San Lorenzo
Holy Stairs (Scala Sancta) and Chapel of San Lorenzo

Holy Stairs (Scala Sancta) and Chapel of San Lorenzo

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Scala Sancta, Rome, Italy

The Basics

Believed to have once led to Pontius Pilate’s praetorium, the stairs are also said to have been climbed by Jesus on his way to trial. It’s no wonder, then, that the Scala Santa is a staple stop on Christian Rome and Passion of the Christ tours. Although you can visit independently, joining a tour group gives you the advantage of extra insider info and historical context. Plus, some tours also include skip-the-line access to the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica.

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Things to Know Before You Go

  • Wear comfortable shoes, a hat, and sunscreen if you’re joining a walking tour of Christian Rome, as you’ll be outdoors for long stretches.

  • Knees and shoulders must be covered to access the Scala Santa replica and Chapel of San Lorenzo. Photography isn’t allowed.

  • The Scala Santa replica isn’t accessible for wheelchair users.

  • Visitors who can’t ascend the stairs on their knees are allowed to kneel on the lowest step and walk up the remaining stairs.

  • Access to the Scala Santa is free but there's a small admission charge for the Sancta Sanctorum.

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How to Get There

The Scala Santa and Chapel of San Lorenzo are part of the Basilica of St. John Lateran complex situated in Rione Monti of Rome at Piazza di San Giovanni. The San Giovanni metro station on Line A is about a 5-minute walk away.

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When to Get There

Scala Santa is open and accessible daily from the mid-morning until the evening, with a short break for lunch. Rome’s holy sites, including the St. John Lateran complex and Scala Santa, are especially crowded during Catholic holidays and Jubilee years; if possible, visit outside of these popular periods.

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The Chapel of San Lorenzo (Sancta Sanctorum)

The first private papal chapel, the Chapel of San Lorenzo is known as the Sancta Sanctorum (Holy of Holies) because it houses a reliquary said to contain the bones of at least 13 saints. The chapel also contains other precious relics, including an icon of Christ Pantocrator.

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