Holy Stairs (Scala Sancta) and Chapel of San Lorenzo
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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- Basilica of St. John Lateran (Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano)
- Caelian Hill (Celio)
- Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem (Basilica di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme)
- Basilica of San Clemente al Laterano (Basilica di San Clemente al Laterano)
- Porta Maggiore
- Basilica of St. Stephen in the Round (Basilica di Santo Stefano Rotondo)
- Oppian Hill Park (Parco del Colle Oppio)
- Basilica of Santi Quattro Coronati (Basilica dei Santi Quattro Coronati)
- Villa Celimontana
- Golden House of Nero (Domus Aurea)
- Rome Basilica di Santi Giovanni e Paolo
- Basilica di Santa Prassede
- Case Romane del Celio
- Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore (Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore)