Loretto Chapel

A mysterious spiral staircase with no known origin is the highlight of this former church that now acts as a wedding chapel and museum.

The origin of the helix-shaped staircase in the 19th-century Loretto Chapel continues to baffle historians more than a century after its construction. The Sisters of Loretto and the site’s many visitors consider the enigmatic construction of the stairs a miracle. Others offer more practical explanations. The former church, which is of Gothic Revival design, is now primarily used as a wedding chapel and a museum for the staircase.

Try to solve the mystery of the spiral staircase. No one is sure who built the stairs or where that person found the non-native lumber to make them. They reach the choir loft, which is 22 feet (6.7 meters) above the main hall. A miraculous legend regarding the stairs reveals the popular belief that St. Joseph built them. There are also several non-spiritual theories. 

Admire the innovative double-helix design of the stairs. Note the two 360-degree turns and the lack of a visible support. Listen to the recording playing in the museum that tells the complete story of the alleged miracle.

See the elegant façade of the former church. Appreciate its gothic characters, such as spires, buttresses and a rose window. View the stained-glass windows. Visit the gift shop for souvenirs. 

The mysterious staircase is the principal reason visitors flock to the chapel. It has been the subject of many television documentaries and movies. The building itself was completed in 1878. There is a small entrance fee for adults but admission is free for young children.

The Loretto Chapel is close to the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi in the center of the city of Santa Fe. Look for many other landmarks in the area, such as Canyon Road, where the art galleries are located, and a plethora of green parks. Get to the center of the city by arriving at the Santa Fe Depot Rail Runner Station.

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