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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.
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Visitor Tips and News About Miraculous Gravity-Defying Staircase

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Choir loft staircase.

Miraculous Gravity-Defying Staircase

The choir loft staircase is in a still functioning church.

[Shannon Christian, 06/06/2023]

Sign about the chapel and stairs.

Miraculous Gravity-Defying Staircase

Great place to visit! Cost us $5. Friendly and helpful employee at entrance will answer any questions. Very much worth the stop! Eight years after installation of the staircase the railing was added. Beautiful!

[Jan Dunlap, 07/25/2020]


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.

Nearby Offbeat Places

Oldest House in the U.S.Oldest House in the U.S., Santa Fe, NM - < 1 mi.
Carved ArchangelsCarved Archangels, Santa Fe, NM - < 1 mi.
Burro AlleyBurro Alley, Santa Fe, NM - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Boondoggle Conquistador Visitor Center, Alcalde, NM - 29 mi.

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