The Loretto Chapel stands out in Santa Fe from all the adobe buildings around it as the only Gothic structure -- indeed, the only Gothic structure west of the Mississippi River. Deconsecrated many years ago as a Catholic church, it now serves as a privately-owned museum, concert hall and popular destination wedding venue. Loretto Chapel is open to the public every day from 9 am to 4:30 pm (Sundays from 10:30), except during special events, so please call ahead if you're traveling: 505-982-0092 (same number as Loretto Line Tours).
The French priests assigned to the Southwest wanted a touch of home, so in 1878 they built the chapel to resemble Paris's famed Sainte-Chapelle, complete with stained glass windows, buttresses and pointed arches.
After the chapel was completed, it became clear that there was no room for a staircase to the choir loft, only a ladder. According to legend, the nuns prayed for 9 days to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters, and on the ninth day an unknown man showed up, and in a few weeks completed a beautiful and unusual spiral staircase, with two complete 360-degree turns, then disappeared without seeking thanks or payment. After attempts to find him failed (they even put an ad in the newspaper), many people concluded that it was St. Joseph himself who answered the prayers in person. (You may have seen the movie version!)
Today you can marvel at the elegant design, and wonder how it stays up without visible posts or reinforcement. (In fact, to protect it you can't actually climb it -- although if you decide to get married here, you can pose on the lower steps for photos.)