The Church of Santa Maria delle Scale (Saint Mary of the Steps) is another Baroque church in Ragusa, located at the border between the modern part of the town, Ragusa Superiore, and the ancient center of the city, Ragusa Ibla. The name of the church derives from its location, at the end of the 340 steps that link the two districts of the city.
The church dates back to the Norman period, when it was called Santa Maria delle Cateratte, because it stood on the edge of a ravine.
In the 14th century, it was rebuilt in Gothic style by the Cistercian monks of the Abbey of Santa Maria di Roccadia in Lentini and, after the earthquake of 1693, which caused the central and left aisles to collapse, it was rebuilt in Baroque style.
After the earthquake, during the rebuilding, the orientation of the church was changed by 90 degrees, and the primitive apses were transformed into the current portals of the right aisle.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
The church has three naves and no apse, and the left side portal is actually the original main entrance. On the counterfacade, there is a fresco of San Biagio, dated back to 1597.
On the right nave, we can find the Chapel of St. Joseph, in which there is the statue of St. Joseph, and the Chapel of the Souls in Purgatory, in which there is a painting depicting the Madonna with Child and the Souls in Purgatory, from the 19th century. At the end of the nave, there is the choir and a statue depicting Saint Lucia.
On the left nave, we can find the 15th century pulpit and the baptismal font built in 1557. On the right apsidiole, there is the Chapel of the Holy Crucifix, while on the left absidiole, we can find the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Church of Santa Maria delle Scale is located about 1.3 kilometers away from the Ragusa railway station and about 2.4 kilometers from the Ragusa bus terminal. To find the church on foot, use the map below.