The Archbasilica of St. John Lateran is a sprawling complex open to the city. This may have been one of the reasons that Pope decided to move to St. Peter’s Basilica. The Vatican is only partially open to the public. Most of Vatican City is housed behind the walls of St. Peter’s where only the residents and workers can go. It is it’s own country after all.
There are three main parts to St. John Lateran’s. The main part is the parish which you see as soon as you walk up:
Off to the right are the Holy Stairs:
The Holy Stairs are housed in the beige building in the middle. You can see the corner of the parish on the left side. You’ll find the door to the entrance around the left of the main facade. Surrounding the Holy Stairs are public shops, restaurants, and possibly homes. A busy street runs between the two. You can see that St. John Lateran is very much a part of the city. I wonder if the home of the Pope and the central workings of the Church had not been moved, how it would have fared during the two world wars since and the other conflicts in Italy. Probably not as well.
The third part of the Archbasilica is the Baptistery. *sigh* I took my precious time, and it was very precious I wouldn’t change a thing, in the Holy Stairs. My interlude caused me to arrive at the Baptistery right before closing time. In my haste I did not stop for a picture of the exterior. It’s annoying but it gives me another reason to return. As if I needed a reason!
If you look here:
See the pink arrow? (Don’t you like how I borrowed the pink from the clown? Ha!) That is the backside of the Baptistery. You can’t get to it by going around the left side of the parish though. You have to go all the way around the right, following the road between the parish and the Holy Stairs, past the obelisk. Yes, the obelisk. One must remember that Rome was Roman before it was Catholic. It’s the domed structure, you can’t miss it.