Scala Santa and Chapel of San Lorenzo

Scala Santa and Chapel of San Lorenzo

Historic Sites • Religious Sites • Churches & Cathedrals
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6:00 AM - 2:00 PM, 3:00 PM - 6:30 PM
6:00 AM - 2:00 PM
3:00 PM - 6:30 PM
6:00 AM - 2:00 PM
3:00 PM - 6:30 PM
6:00 AM - 2:00 PM
3:00 PM - 6:30 PM
6:00 AM - 2:00 PM
3:00 PM - 6:30 PM
6:00 AM - 2:00 PM
3:00 PM - 6:30 PM
6:00 AM - 2:00 PM
3:00 PM - 6:30 PM
7:00 AM - 2:00 PM
3:00 PM - 6:30 PM
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For centuries, the Scala Santa has attracted Christian pilgrims and visitors who wished to honor the Passion of Christ. Tradition says that originally the Holy Stairs led to the praetorium, or judgment hall, of Pontius Pilate's palace in Jerusalem. Today, those same 28 white marble steps lead to the Sancta Sanctorum, or “Holiest of Holy Places”, the first private chapel of the Popes. Many have undergone the spiritual ritual of ascending the stairs on their knees.The Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs, one of the major projects by Pope Sixtus V, encompasses 1700 m of frescoes completed in 1590. These images tell the story of both the old and new testaments while including depictions of various saints, doctors of the church and the superb landscapes by Flemish master Paul Bril.
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The area
Neighborhood: Monti
Monti is Rome’s rebel yell. This neighborhood just west of Termini train station mixes grit with fun as it continues to fight for its reputation as a magnet for the artsy, alternative, and hipster. Every season, quirky boutiques and food spots sprout up on its cobblestone streets. The neighborhood supports unique and homegrown businesses that cater to its longtime residents as well as hipsters on the hunt. Hang out at Piazza della Madonna dei Monti anytime after lunch and you'll always find something going on.
How to get there
  • San Giovanni • 5 min walk
  • San Giovanni • 5 min walk
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.

774 reviews
Very good

11,440 contributions
May 2019
Holy Stairs are located in a small church next to the Basilica of St. John Lateran. According to tradition, these are the stairs that Jesus Christ climbed to meet Pontius Pilate before his passion. These stairs were brought from Jerusalem to Rome in 326 by Saint. Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine I. It was at the top of these stairs, in the seat of Pontius Pilate, that Jesus was sentenced to death by crucifixion.
Written April 22, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Westlake Village, CA22 contributions
Sep 2012 • Couples
My wife and I walked to the sacred stairs from our flat near the Pantheon. I think it took us three hours or so. It was in October of 2012 and the weather was at times, sunny, windy, rainy, and cold. We had found the Scala Santa in a book called 'One Thousand Places You Must See Before You Die' by Patricia Schultz.

The walk became an accidental pilgrimage for us.

We had just spent the previous day in the Vatican with all it's majesty, authority, grandeur and wealth befitting the surviving aspects of the Roman Empire. We saw the greatest art collection in the world, the Sistine Chapel, the Pieta, St. Peters, what can compare to that?

The Chapel of San Lorenzo is in a bit of a cold city setting enveloped by city streets. The rain made it look colder. At first we couldn't find the entrance before realizing that it was closed and would reopen at 3pm, an hour hence. So we sat at a Cafe near the main doors and had a Pizza lunch under the awnings.

At this point I was a bit bored and unimpressed. At 3pm we were by the doors with a bit of a rag tag bunch. A few obviously poor visiting Nuns, some poorly dressed youth, and older Italians, only a few western tourists were brave enough to be there during the rain.

Finally the doors opened, the Priest, a striking fellow, just smiled and unlocked the big padlock to the ugly security gates against the old wood door, and swung them open.

The crowd had been here before, my wife and I were in the front so we slowed to follow the veterans lead. Our group approached an old old wooden staircase. I read a placard that said the original marble staircase from which Pontius Pilate sentenced Jesus to death on had been covered by hardwood for protection from the masses.

The staircase was brought from Jerusalem by Constantine's (the first Christian Emperor of Roma) Mother in around 300AD.

Everyone was quiet and respectful. The first group knelt on the first step and prayed, we did the same. The tradition is to climb the stairs one by one on your knees. Walking up the stairs is not permitted. The process can take at least 15-30 minutes.

My wife and I decided to stay on the first step since she had worn a skirt and ascending would not be proper. Ladies: were pants.

Not being a Catholic, I simply started to talk to Jesus in my mind, thanking him for all the blessings in my life. After the initial pain of my knees are hardwood started to dissipate, I began to truly feel something while praying on the Scala Santa. I felt nothing like this at St. Peters. My wife also told me she felt warm and loved on this staircase. There was more, but I will keep that to myself. All I can say is, go here without expectation and open your mind.

Written November 25, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Arnold, Maryland7 contributions
About one mile down from the Colliseum, use Laterano boulevard from the square.
These steps are reported to be the steps Jesus walked before he was crucified. Reportedly moved here from Jerusalem, they are marbled covered with wood. There are glass enclosed port holes where Jesus blood has been spilled. You must walk the 28 steps on your knees, praying at each step. It takes about 20 minutes to get to the top where there is a beautiful mosaic of Jesus to greet you. You also kiss or touch the glass portals where the blood stains remain. This is truly a moving experience you share with other pilgrims.
Next to the Scala Sancta is the Basilica San Giovanni Laterano which compares favorably with St. Peter's Basilica. It also has Saints on the rooftop overlooking the square.
On the way to or back from the Basilica you may visit the Church of San Clemente. Below the church is a pagan temple you can visit(charge)
Written November 1, 2009
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Denver13 contributions
Aug 2011
The Holy Stairs were brought back from the Holy Land by St. Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great. These stairs are the stairs that Christ walked up and down to visit with Pontius Pilate as he was condemned to death by crucifixion. The stairs are marble, but today are covered in wood to preserve them from the thousands of pilgrims who climbs them on their knees. Every few steps (in the center mostly) are small reliquaries where supposedly the Blood of Christ dropped. While passing these steps and small glass reliquaries, the faithful often bend down and kiss them, or reverence them in some way. The stairs are not allowed to be climbed on anything other than one's knees. There are two other stairways on either side that can be climbed as normal to gain access to the top where a small chapel rests. At the top of the stairs is a much larger reliquary where Christ must have stood and blood may have pooled. The side walls of the stairway is lined with frescoes of Christ's passion.

On a personal note, I have visited the stairs a few times and the last was in August, 2011. Climbing the stairs is no easy task; for one who is 22 or one who is 40 years old. And yet you see so many small 70 year old Italian women climbing these stairs on their knees like it's nothing. It is a very profound experience of being uncomfortable and conforming your sufferings to what Christ went through. Just when you think you can't make it up another stair, you'll see the images of Christ's passion along the wall and realize that you can make it just a little more... Then, you're at the top. It is a deeply moving experience.
Written September 27, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Judy C
Riverstick, Cork, Ireland13 contributions
Mar 2012 • Friends
i went with my friend and while i had a great time in rome this was the most special part of the trip when you look up the steps they are steeper than i thought but as you go up its amazing the journey you go on there is a point when you think i cant move another knee and then you remember what Jesus did fo us and you get strenght to go on when you reach the top it is very moving if you go to rome please go you wont reget it
Written March 28, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

New York City, NY25 contributions
Apr 2019 • Family
We were fortunate to time our visit to Rome with the uncovering (removal of the wooden planks) of the Holy Stairs, which will remain uncovered until approximately June 9, 2019.

You can find detailed information elsewhere, so I'm going to focus this review mainly on specific information, including opening time and location (see photos).

Location: the holy stairs are directly across the streeet from the Basilica of Saint John Lateran: Piazza di S. Giovanni in Laterano, 14, 00185 Roma RM, Italy. Telephone: +39 06 77 26 641

Transportation by taxi: there is a taxi stand about a 1-2 minute walk away from the entrance. There is also a traffic light directly next to the entrance, but if it is green your taxi will not be able to stop because it would obviously block traffic.

Transporation by subway/train: The closest stop is the San Giovanni, which is on the "A" (red color") line. The total distance is only 0.2 miles, or about a 5 minute walk. When exiting the train station, follow the initial signs for the Via Magnagrecia/Via Appia Nuova. Then specifically head towards the via Magna Grecia exit. I'm not sure if it's the absolute closest exit, but basically we made a bunch of right turns before ascending the stairs to exit onto the street level. Once you exit, head towards Porta Asinaria, This is a large stone gate (we thought it might be Roman aquaduct) that traverses the entire street with arch like openings for cars to pass through). Once past this, you will see the majestic Basilica of St. John Lateran, which has 11 statues of religious figures on the roof, with a cross behind the central elevated figure. If you are facing the basilica, the building that houses the stairs will be to the right side. It's a grayish building with a huge white canvas like area above the entrance. Kind of like a drive inn movie screen. On the sides of the front entrance are signs that read "Cappella Papale Sancta Sanctrorum" and "Pontificio Santuario Scala Santa". In the center is the entrance. There were military guards also close by so don't let that throw you off.

Time: The holy stairs are open weekdays from 6am to 2pm. On "Festivities", they are open from 7am to 2pm. I don't know what "Festivities" refers to. From April to September, they are also open from 3pm to 7pm (again, they are expected to be covered with wooden planks by June 9, 2019). We arrived around 7:15am and there was no line, with maybe 6 people already ascending the stairs. When we were finished we came back down and for about 5 minutes, no one was ascending the stairs.

Other information: this is free though there is a offeratory/gratuity box near the entrance. You descend via conventional stairs on either side when you are finished. You are not supposed to take pictures but I did, mainly for my mother who is strongly Catholic and who is too old to make the trip. The pictures with the crosses represents the areas where Jesus's blood touched the stairs.
Written April 24, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

new york322 contributions
Apr 2014 • Family
This was my highlight. I was really struck and my faith was renewed after this experience. To kneel on the same stairs that Jesus climbed on in Jerusalem is indescribable. My knees hurt a lot, but as soon as I remembered what Jesus went through, I just kept persevering. I never knew about these stairs. The little booklet of information is available right inside the church for one euro. I read up on it while I waited in line.this helped my experience.
Written April 23, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Amanda Lynne M
Warner Robins, GA30 contributions
Nov 2011 • Friends
The Scala Sancta are the steps that led up to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem, which Jesus Christ stood on during his Passion on his way to trial. The stairs were brought to Rome by St. Helena in the 4th Century.

You may only ascend these stairs on your knees. There are 28 and they are covered in wood, with cut outs on the risers where you may touch the stairs. There are small areas covered in glass with the blood stains of Christ.

Ascending these stairs in prayer and contemplating the suffering of Christ was one of the most moving and spiritual experiences of my life. It was also one of the most painful. The wood is as hard as marble, warped and creaky. To me that is good for it helps you keep in mind the suffering Christ endured for us.

I highly recommend visiting this most holy of places.
Written December 4, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Carol Lobo
Mumbai, India82 contributions
Oct 2019 • Friends
When we decided to visit the Sancta Scala, I went as a tourist but left moved to tears. I decided, on the spur of the moment, to climb the stairs that Jesus had once ascended, on my knees. If Jesus had suffered so much pain in his life and was then crucified, why couldn't I endure an iota of discomfort in His name? Also, being one among a group of people, all of us climbing with the same faith, made for a powerful experience... Sometimes, you are sent a test of faith when you least expect it. A must-do for believers.
Written October 6, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Ron M
Menasha, WI337 contributions
May 2019 • Solo
I made a short trip (2 days) to Rome, specifically to see these steps. I have been to Rome several times before though it has been 20 plus years since the last visit. Though I am not “devout” I thought it would be nice to see these steps and appreciate the very detailed description of how to get there, what to expect, etc.

I have to say, other than seeing the steps and one of the crosses that allegedly marks where Jesus’ blood dropped, it was very disappointing:

1. Biggest Problem: Butt Cracks. There was a 10 minute or so line going into the building and then a staff member metering people into the steps. Most people coming here want to experience climbing the steps and you have to do it on your knees. The steps will fit about 5 or 6 across and it will take about 20 - 25 minutes to do the stairs as people stop and pray on every level. As I was waiting my turn (which I ended up bailing on, mostly because of this problem) I noticed a LOT of people, mostly overweight men, who had absolutely no clue that their butt cracks were clearly exposed as they made their way up the steps. Didn’t seem to bother anyone else..but then again I don’t like today’s “gangster style” pants either.

2. Commercialism of the Building: I was quite surprised to see this building, which includes a sanctuary, to be as commercialized as it is. On the front of the building is a HUGE commercial display (forgot what it is advertising) that goes the width of the building and about half way down the front.

3. Timing Is Everything If You Really Want to See the Steps: One of the other comments indicated that it would be good to come early. I agree. I came immediately after arriving at the airport and the steps were full and covered by people (see note 1 above.). I think if you really want to see the steps you have to be one of the first few in line when they open....ideally, if you were among the first 5 or 6 you would be on the first landing and could see the rest of them on your way up. Otherwise you will only see the part of the step you are kneeling upon on your way up.

I would not say this was a wasted trip...the Roman Forum ruins have been escavated more since I was here last and I wandered around some of the other sites.

One thing to watch out for in Rome, near any of the tourist sites, are the hustlers. I was harassed by two large black men, both dressed in loud but colorful and otherwise “nice” outfits, who wanted to “high five”. I ignored them for hours (they kept appearing in various places I was) until one of them asked why I was ignoring them. When I shook his hand he wouldn’t let go and tried to engage me in long conversation. I heard him alert his partner....who was clearly heading for my backpack. I’ve seen this before..distract the tourist while you rifle his bag. I called him out on it and they knocked it off. (I didn’t get pickpocketed either.)

I’m probably done with Rome...very crowded....much more of Europe to see.
Written May 4, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Scala Santa and Chapel of San Lorenzo, Rome

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