Santa Fe, New Mexico: Miraculous Gravity-Defying Staircase

Made of wood that supposedly doesn't exist, in a way that baffles scientists. The ornate spiral staircase was built between 1873 and 1878 by a mysterious carpenter -- St. Joseph, perhaps, or possibly one even more famous.

Loretto Chapel

207 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM
One block southeast of the downtown plaza.
Save to My Sights

Visitor Tips and News About Miraculous Gravity-Defying Staircase

Reports and tips from visitors and Roadside America mobile tipsters. Some tips may not be verified. Submit your own tip.


Miraculous Gravity-Defying Staircase

The admission is $5 now, but it is worth it to observe what is possibly a real life miracle.

[Melissa J, 04/03/2019]
Miraculous Gravity-Defying Staircase

Cost to get in is $4. Miraculous or mundane in its origins, the staircase is a sight to behold. The chapel itself is intricate and worth a look.

[Nick S., 03/24/2018]

Chapel staircase.

Santa Fe's Loretto Chapel - Miracle Staircase

The chapel was built by French and Spanish artisans who modeled the chapel after Sainte Chapelle in Paris. The story is that the sisters prayed for a carpenter to build them a stairway to the choir loft. An unknown carpenter came along and built the spiral stairway without the use of hammer or nails. He left before he could be paid and no one is quite sure who he was or how he completed the masterpiece. Engineers still marvel at this carpenters accomplishment.

The Chapel is quite small and the tour takes almost no time. Be sure to stay the watch the video which fully explains the history of the chapel.

As I live in Santa Fe, we take guests there on a yearly basis. None of our guest have ever been disappointed. Forget the "mini-mall" entrance some have described. It's a small enclosure added to the side of the original building which also houses a gift shop -- the only difference being you do enter from the side of the church via this small area as opposed to entering through the front double doors as in most churches. Once inside the chapel itself, this area does not detract from the original structure.

[Marilyn Mazorol, 07/29/2007]

Latest theory about the staircase: It was built by immigrant woodworker Francois-Jean "Frenchy" Rochas, who was later killed in a dispute over water rights by Oliver Lee, a powerful local politician and rancher. The "miracle" story was allowed to flourish so that everyone would forget about Francois... and they have.

Lorretto Chapel's Miraculous Staircase

Two 360 degree turns, no center support, no reason (architecturally) to remain standing. Costs about $2.50 to get in to see it. Beautiful chapel with interesting history of its own in addition to the stairs. Made of a wood that doesn't exist anywhere, according to information in gift shop. Take a look, stare in awe, hustle through the gift shop and contemplate the possibility of miracles.

[Mike and Geneva, 08/15/2005]
Lorretto Chapel's Miraculous Staircase

Site of the "Miraculous Staircase". Supposedly built by St. Joseph and, yes, a hotel was built next to it and they were linked by some weird mall-type thing. The chapel itself was bought by a family about twenty-five years ago, and they're responsible for the hotel and the pr.

The stairs themselves were built by the mystery man, but the gaudy railing (what most associate with the chapel) was added later by a real person.

It's true that no one's allowed to walk up the staircase except those who paid a big sum to get married there. If you rent the chapel to get married you're allowed to actually get on it with your bride/groom and get photos taken. I had to take my shoes off because I was scared I'd trip and break the thing in that big dress. My husband and I are not small people either and I had nightmares the night before that we'd hurt the miraculous staircase -- and get seriously sued. It was kinda wobbly but the wood was really smooth. We distributed photos of us on that staircase with the christmas cards that was too funny.

[Noelle Dempsey, 10/29/2000]

Nearby Offbeat Places

Oldest House in the U.S.Oldest House in the U.S., Santa Fe, NM - < 1 mi.
Burro AlleyBurro Alley, Santa Fe, NM - < 1 mi.
Big Dynamite and Gold Golf BallBig Dynamite and Gold Golf Ball, Santa Fe, NM - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Tent Rocks, Tent Rocks, NM - 28 mi.

Latest Tips Across Roadside America

Catch up on the latest discoveries from the road.

Explore Thousands of Oddball Tourist Attractions!

Unique destinations in the U.S. and Canada are our special obsession. Use our attraction recommendation and maps to plan your next road trip.

July 11, 2020

My Sights

My Sights

Create Your Own Bizarre Road Trips!

Try My Sights

Roadside America app
Roadside Presidents app

New Mexico Latest Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

Spud Drive-In Giant Potato, Driggs, Idaho (Jul 6-12, 2020)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

More Sightings

Sightings. Arrives without warning. Leaves no burn marks. A free newsletter from Subscribe now! Hotel & Motel Finder

Special rates for hotels.

Book Now


Favorite Quirky City Sights