St. John in Lateran and Cloister

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St. John in Lateran and Cloister

What you'll do

Admire the stunning Cosmatesque architecture and see the legendary Scala Sancta at the official seat of the Pope, St John in the Lateran.

Enjoy entry to St. John in Lateran and Cloister with the OMNIA Vatican & Rome Pass

  • You will be able to admire the magnificent Cathedral of Rome, the medieval cloister, the Holy Staircase and the Papal Chapel of the Sancta Sanctorum.
  • Includes a free audio guide worth €10. Show your pass at the entrance to redeem your complimentary audio guide.
  • This attraction is included with your OMNIA Card, which allows you free entry to Vatican attractions, as well as the Rome Hop-On Hop-Off Bus.

As the official ecclesiastical seat of the Pope, the Basilica of St John in the Lateran is the oldest and most important church in Rome (you wouldn’t have guessed it was ranked above St Peter’s Basilica!). It’s also one of the oldest basilicas in Western Europe, having been built in 324 AD. Its adjacent Cloister is an oasis for meditative prayer and both buildings are popular amongst visitors to Rome both for their religious symbolism as well as their architecture and history.


  • Cosmatesque interior design and baroque façade and architecture.
  • Twelve large sculptures of the Apostles by the late baroque artists of the early 18th century.
  • Holy Steps, the Scala Sancta.
  • 14th-century Gothic Baldacchino.
  • The Cloister.

Did you know

  • St John in the Lateran and Cloister is actually a nickname; its official name is Archbasilica of the Most Holy Saviour and of Sts. John Baptist and John Evangelist in the Lateran
  • There are six Papal tombs inside the basilica, the more recent tombs are now held in the crypts at St Peter’s Basilica
  • The basilica suffered the fate of two destructive fires during the Avignon papacy and from then the Pope moved out and into St Peter’s in the Vatican, where he lives to this day

Things to see

Interior design

The nave features the original Cosmatesque mosaic floor and gilded wooden ceiling which survived the fires and Borromini’s renovations in the mid 17th century. The papal cathedra (chair) sits in the elaborate apse, rich in decoration and mosaics. Not to be missed!

Holy Steps

The holy steps are a set of 28 white marble steps in the old Lateran Palace, leading to the Sancta Sanctorum – the early personal chapel of the Popes. According to Catholic belief, the steps are the same ones that Jesus Christ stepped up leading up to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem.

Baroque Façade

Topped with fifteen Travertine statues, the façade is one of the basilica’s most impressive features and was part of a renovation project commissioned by Pope Clement XII. Alessandro Galilei won and finished the final façade, as we see today, in 1735. It’s now one of the best examples of Baroque architecture in the city.


Built in the early 13th century the cloister is one of the most beautiful in Rome and displays the ornate Cosmatesque style in its mosaic friezes, as well as the thick spiralling columns embellished in mosaic decoration, too. The ambulatory houses a ninth century well and small garden, a secret oasis in the centre of Rome.

Know before you go

Getting in: show your Omnia Card upon arrival.

Where you'll be

Operating hours

Basilica San Giovanni in Laterano: 7AM - 6PM

Cloister: 9AM - 5PM (last entrance at 4:30PM)

Lateran Baptistery: 9AM - 12:30PM and 4PM - 7PM

Holy Stairs and the Papal Chapel of the Sancta Sanctorum: 9AM - 1:30PM and 3PM - 6:30PM

The Sancta Sanctorum: Monday to Saturday: 9AM - 1:15PM and 3PM - 5:15PM, closed Sunday and religious holidays


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