Plus 19 magnificent stairways around the world

Portugal — Lello Bookshop – This interesting grand staircase in a bookshop in Portugal looks quite intimidating to climb, but it has a great view of the book store. The steps are like two channels of red wine pouring and swirling down to a single point.

Belgium— Buren Mountain – although this is not a real mountain, it’s the name of the stairs, probably because it just looks like a mountain to climb.  It is located in the city of Liege and has 374 stone stairs.  The staircase was built in 1881 but the handrails were added later.  It was first built to allow soldiers to have access to the city centre.

Hawaii — Haiku Stairs – also known as the ‘stairway to heaven’.   It is a steep hiking trail on the island of Oahu. The trail starts as a wooden staircase leading to the cliff on the south side of the Valley of Haiku . The staircase was installed in 1942 to stretch a cable from one side of the hill to the other side. This was necessary in order to provide a continuous link to the naval station during the war.

In 2003, the staircase was restored at a cost of $875,000. , but due to current legal issues of land use, the city and county of Honolulu said there is no current plan to open the stairs for public use.

Switzerland  — Bridge staircase over one of the deep gorges at the Via Mala. Engineers solved the problem of connecting two different heights of this gorge by creating a hanging, ladder bridge. This staircase replaces a rope bridge for travelers to get across the river because the old one was destroyed by a landslide. This new pedestrian bridge covers a distance of 56 meters in height with a vertical drop of 22 meters between the two slopes.  Quite an engineering feat, but a little scary to cross when it’s windy.

India — Chand Baori Well – This unusual staircase at Chand Baori structure is located in a village near Jaipur Abaneri, India. The well was built in the year 800, with 3500 steps descending 13 floors and 20 meters to the bottom. Shand Baori structure was designed to save as much water as possible. At the bottom of the well the air is 6.5 degrees cooler than at the surface. This place was used as a resting place for local residents during heat waves.  The top structures look like Roman architecture with all the arches.

Scotland – Cascade universe, located on the hillside along the gardens of Dumfries in Scotland, consists of a series of many steep steps.  Large areas with viewing benches were installed on each flight. You can simply enjoy the beauty of nature, or relax while climbing.  The  staircase begins at the pond and leads to a beautiful pavilion upstairs. Although the gardens are private, they open to the public several times a year.  Notice there are no hand rails.

Greece — Stairs Santorini  – In 1715 the island residents built a steep staircase on the hillside so they could get from the sea to the summit and back. They had to use donkeys to help carry cargo and passengers from ships up to the city. In 1930, the stairs were improved, but donkeys were still the most reliable carriers.  Finally, in 1979, a ropeway was installed to automate the process, but for tourists, the most interesting trip to the top, is still the donkeys.  There are a total of 657 carved, stone steps to climb to the large town on the top.

Japan — Awaji Yumebutai – (Ladder of Dreams) is a complex area of buildings and other structures located on the island of Awaji.   There are many different tier gardens, consisting of 100 beds of plants and stairs. The complex was built as a memorial to the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995. Construction was carried out on the side of the mountain, which was half demolished in the early 90’s.

Germany — Tiger Turtle Stairs -This unusual sculpture is 21 meters tall and was named Tiger Turtle.    It is located on a hillside in Duisburg, Germany.  Steps meander along the steel frame in a spiral structure, which includes a full loop. Visitors can climb through this staircase, but are not allowed to enter the centre loop where the steps go upside down.

Ukraine  — Potemkin Stairs in Odessa – It is the formal entrance into the city from the sea and the most famous symbol of Odessa.  It was originally known as the ladder Richelieu . The top step is 12.5 meters wide, and the lowest step widens to 21.7 meters.  Because of the different widths above and below, the stairs create the illusion of greater length.  The beautiful landscaping along the sides provides a little shade for the challenging climb.

Germany  — Steel Sculpture Art – This interesting piece of art merges art and architecture in a 9 meter-high walk that is a double spiral of steel at the entrance of the KPMG office building (a global accounting firm) in Munich, Germany . The staircase was added to the front of their building in 2004 and is quite the conversation piece since the stairs end up where they start.

New Mexico — a Miraculous Staircase – located in Saint Joseph church at Loretto Chapel in Santa Fé ,. 136 years after it was built in 1878, it still confounds architects, engineers, and master craftsmen in the physics of its construction and remains inexplicable in view of its baffling design.

The unusual helix shaped spiral staircase has two complete 360° turns, stands 20 feet high up to the choir loft and has no center pole to support it as most circular stairways have. Its entire weight rests solely on its base and against the choir loft – a mystery that defies all laws of gravity, it should have crashed to the floor the moment anyone stepped on it.  Yet it is still in daily use for over a hundred years.

The risers of the 33 steps are all of the same height.  Made of an apparently extinct wood species, it was constructed with only square wooden pegs without glue or nails.  At the time it was built, the stairway had no banisters. These were added 10 years later in 1888 by Phillip A. Hesch at the Sisters’ request for safety sake.

Nederland  — Moses Bridge – In the early 17th century, Fort de Ruver was surrounded by a moat and was originally built without a bridge, which was added later.  But during a restoration program centuries later, it necessitated the construction of a new bridge. The original sunken bridge literally merged with the water line, so the new construction became an almost invisible bridge from a distance, with a staircase down to a partially submerged walkway.

China — Spiral Stairs – this staircase was installed along the mountainside in Tyayhan Linchzhou, China.  At 91 meters tall, it offers the thrill of climbing without any ropes. You will feel the full force of the wind, birds will fly past, and steps will creak.  It’s much more interesting than taking the elevator to the top.  However, due to safety and health issues, you must agree to a number of conditions first if want to you climb.  Climbers must be under 60 years of age and complete a form confirming that they have no heart or lung problems.  Notice that once you get off the spiral staircase, there’s more stairs.

Austria — Schlossberg –  The main attraction in Schlossberg is the Clock Tower.    It has stood proudly for many years and is visible from all points in the city.  People climb to the top to enjoy the incredible views of the surrounding area.  This impressive staircase carved into the rock leads to the top of the hill where the clock tower is located.  260 steps to climb is not considered difficult by locals, but anyone can use the elevator “lift” instead.   Beautiful, but challenging.

California — The 16th Avenue Steps, in San Francisco –  At the corner of Moraga Street and 16th Avenue, in the Golden Gate Heights neighborhood of San Fran is the base of the most beautiful staircase in this city. A brightly-tiled panel covers the front of each of the 163 steps, and as the stairs stretch up the hill toward 15th Avenue, the individual panels blend together to form a massive, mosaic picture. Stunning in its entirety, yet intricate and detailed enough to be captivating when viewed up close.  More beautiful when seen in person.

Ecuador — Steps in a Canyon – This famous staircase in the canyon is located near the waterfall Pailon del Diablo in Ecuador.  It is quite a large waterfall and just 30 minutes from the city of Banos. This is one of the most popular attractions in the area when visiting that country.   It’s  quite the challenge since the stairs are so steep.

Australia — Spiral Staircase in Sydney – This amazing spiral staircase is located at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney.   It is five stories high and makes your body turn about 6.5 revolutions when you climb to the top, but there’s an exit on each floor.

France —  Museum Musée Gustave Moreau, in Paris –  This is how you make a spectacular entrance to an art museum.  It is named after the famous painter Docteur Moreau.   Gorgeous to see, exhilarating to climb.

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