30 Top Famous and Historical Stairs: Staircase to heaven

Posted by Ra Moon

Welcome to our curated selection of 30 outstanding and emblematic staircases. Many of these are beautiful pieces of art and engineering that mark an architectural step upwards, and have therefore in some way participated in humanity’s historical climb to progress.

Other images have been boosted by the work of the photographer and have a beautiful composition, having chosen the minimal perspective, right at the center of the bottom -or the top- of the stairway. Also, you'll find them arranged in ascending chronological order, from the middle ages to the modern day.

This ancient constructive solution has also played an unforgettable cinematographic role in key films, from the Odessa staircase in Battleship Potemkin to the most recent Joker stairs location:

Double Helix Staircase
Two people can go up at the same time the double helix staircase of the Château de Chambord in the Loire Valley (France, 1519–1547) at the same time, without ever meeting. Image by Flo21

Top Staircases
I preferred the previous image for the cover, however, the very first shot from our list is two centuries younger than Siena's Mangia Tower (Italy), finished by 1348. It is also one of the most recognizable icons of Tuscany, where Made in Italy was filmed. Image by Steve Jurvetson

Palazzo Venezia
We haven't left Italy yet: The Palazzo Venezia in Roma is an old building (1467) that made history when Mussolini used its balcony to deliver some of his most notable fascist bullshit. Image by Anthony Majanlahti

Impossible Staircase
By 1537, this seashell was considered an 'impossible staircase', as it is supporting itself without the aid of any central pillar. Hartenfels Castle in Torgau, Germany. Image by Pinfeng

Top Starways
In this 16th century structure from Geneva's city hall (Switzerland), they decided to do without the steps, building a paved ramp that enabled horsemen to surmount three floors without dismounting. Image by Fabian Heusser

Helicoidal Staircase
We enter the baroque era with this 1633 helicoidal staircase from Palazzo Barberini, also in Rome.
Image by Riccardo Cuppini

Tulip staircase ghost
The 1635 Tulip staircase at Queen's House, Greenwich, is better known thanks to the popular photo taken here of the ghost, than due to the fact that it was the first centrally unsupported spiral staircase in England. Image by Jack Malvern

The Monumen Spiral
The Monument was built in 1667, after the Great Fire of London, as a foundation stone for its reconstruction. You can climb 311 steps to the top for amazing views. Image by Tom Page

Triple Helical
But it is Spain who risked a triple mortal helical spiral staircase. Each of the three branches takes you to a different floor, only one to the top. You can find this marvel inside the Monastery of Saint Dominic of Bonaval, built from 1685 to 1715 in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia. Image by Amateur photo bore

The Name of the Rose Abbey
The Baroque Melk Abbey in Austria, finished by 1736. You may remember Adso of Melk, the Benedictine novice accompanying Sean William of Baskerville Connery in 'The Name of the Rose'. Image by Martin Haesemeyer

Phare des Baleines
Back to France to watch the Atlantic from the top of the Phare des Baleines, or the Whale Lighthouse in Le Gillieux, 1854. Image by Rob Watling

Flight of stairs
Great capture of a small staircase in Saint Mary's Church (1878), included in Studley Royal Park, England.
Image by Nick Garrod

Lighthouse Glasgow
Inside the observation tower of The Lighthouse in Glasgow, a building from 1895 transformed into Scotland's Centre for Design and Architecture. Image by Seth M

Instructions on how to climb a staircase
Gothic Revival style in the Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest, inaugurated in 1896.
Image by Szabolcs J. Csörge

Phare d'Eckmühl
The Phare d'Eckmühl is a lighthouse in Brittany (France), built in 1897. According to Wikipedia, at 213 feet (65 m), it's one of the tallest lighthouses in the world and it's open to the public. Image by Martin Burns

Riga Art Nouveau
1903 - it's the time of the Art Nouveau and its Museum in Riga, Latvia. The stairways are wrapped in organic paintings and decorations made by prominent artists from this Baltic country. Image by Alistair Young

Top bookshops in Porto
Here we have another celebrity. Since 1906, the Lello Bookshop in Porto (Portugal), which is considered one of the top in the world, thanks to its history and especially to architectural features like these curved stairs. Image by Ilya Varlamov

The Initiation Well
We are still in Portugal visiting the obscure state of Quinta de Regaleira in Sintra, concluded by 1910. Everything breathes symbolism related to alchemy or Freemasonry, among other arcane disciplines. So don't be surprised if you find The Initiation Well, a sort of inverted tower, in the property's gardens. Image by Fundação Cultursintra

Schwerin Castle
This bright stairway is part of a reconstructed wing in Schwerin Castle (Germany), built between 1926 and 1931. This old ducal palace sits at the top of a scenic island. Image by Careful...gone rafting

Haus Atlantis
The 1931 Art Déco Atlantis House in Bremen, Germany, was badly damaged during the bombings of the Second World War that destroyed most of the beautiful old city. Image by Any user

Old Daily Express Building
A galaxy inside the Old Daily Express Building in London (England), another Art Déco Staircase from 1932.
Image by Mark Hellen

Spiral stairs Vatican
Naturally, we had to include the star of the staircases, another VIP layout that was not completed, to my surprise, until 1932: The Spiral stairs of the Vatican Museums. Image by Vicente Villamón

Atomium Brussels
This is no ordinary escalator: we are inside the 1958 Atomium in Brussels, Belgium. The moving staircase was first invented in the United States at the end of the 19th century. Image by Gilderic Photography

Antwerp Bell
The Old Factory of the Bell Telephone Company in Antwerp (1958, Belgium) has been transformed into a mixed project providing both housing and part of the city's administration. Image by Roger Price

Guggenheim New York architecture
Finally, we've got out of Europe, visiting the 1959 Guggenheim Museum on the Fifth Avenue in New York, United States.
Image by Atache

Itaipu Dam inside
Endless stairs inside the monstrous Itaipu Dam, located on the border between Brazil and Paraguay and finished in 1984.

It's the second-largest in the world, only beaten by the Three Gorges Dam in China. Under its reservoir, the Guaíra Falls were inundated, considered at the time among the top 10 worldwide.

The falls were also blown up, so the green warriors have very little hope for a restoration.
Image by Jacson Querubin

Top Staiways
This is a Dresden office Building in Falkenbrunnen, with some colored ropes hanging down (Germany, 1995).
Image by Herr Böb

Final Destination
The City Hall of London, opened in 2002, features these wheels which are seemingly about to derail.
Image by Jim Crossley

Frank Gehry Art Gallery of Ontario
The Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto (Canada), was refurbished by Frank Gehry in 2008, and instead of tearing apart the old museum, new ramps and stairs like this one were designed to connect with the original edifice. Image by Ian Muttoo

Space Odyssey landscape
We could be inside a Space Odyssey landscape, but this is an unknown futuristic building in Berlin, Germany. Maybe it's located in another space-time dimension in Winden (Dark series).

That’s enough for now, with this sample of 30 staircases. Have you missed any?
Image by Martin Müller

  1. Hello!
    In this compilation I miss the beautiful "Stair to Heaven", by arch. Gert Wingård, completed in 2013, at Kivik Art Center in Sweden.


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