First and foremost, staircases, whether straight, spiral, bifurcated, curved, L-shaped or U-shaped, are designed and built to provide access between floors or to the top of a structure. However, to many architects and engineers throughout the centuries, staircases were works of art, engineering marvels, and a means to an end. For some artists, plain public stairs are canvases. They can be transformed into colorful masterpieces.
Have you seen any impressive staircases lately? Trippy user Candace from San Diego saw a few and wanted to see more. She said:
I recently saw some of the craziest staircases in the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. Where else in the world has cool, winding, or even weird staircases? Want to plan some trips to see them..pictures would be awesome, thanks!
Here’s a list of the world’s scariest, weird, and most impressive staircases shared by Trippy users.
1. Chand Baori, India
The maze-like Chand Baori step-well (a well with stairs) in Abhaneri is a series of stone steps arranged geometrically, about 13 stories deep. These 3,500 steps were built in the eighth century for the Rajput people to have access to water for prayer and cleansing.
2. El Peñon de Guatape, Colombia
El Peñon de Guatape (The Rock of Guatape) is a 7,000 feet tall inselberg located in Guatape, a small town about a two-hour bus ride from Medellin. You’ll need to climb about 650 steps to get to the top of this massive rock formation.
Rasto from Edmonton shared:
The one I had to climb (over 600 steps) to get to the top of Piedra del Peñol, Guatape in Colombia. Not that stairs were somehow impressive, but the way it was built into the granite monolithic rock and a beautiful view you get once you are at the top.
3. Huangshan Mountain, China
Staircases, stairwells or flights of stairs are designed and built to provide access between floors – from a lower level to a higher level and vice versa. But in China, they took it a little further. Trippy user Robert said:
Huangshan Mountain in China. UNESCO World Heritage park, 60,000 carved stone stairs, some over 1,500 years old. Hotels at the top and in the valley at the bottom. Going up is a tough 1-day trip. Coming down is doable but take knee support and aspirin, start early, and you will be off by dusk.
Yes, you read it right, 60,000 steps, but you can opt to take the cable car to the top. If you’re up for the challenge, do carve out at least six to seven hours for this trip up.
4. Escadaria Selaron, Brazil
Chilean artist Jose Selaron started the Selaron steps project in 1990 when he noticed that the stairs in front of his home in Lapa, Rio de Janeiro, were plain and unattractive. He covered the steps section by section with tiles of green, red, yellow, and blue. Soon, the stairs became an attraction for locals and tourists. What began as a self-funded project turned into a masterpiece over 2,000 tiles, 300 of the tiles were hand-painted by Selaron. The rest were from tourists and locals.
Trippy users Claus and Juan Pablo said Escadaria Selaron is the most impressive staircase that he has ever seen. Claus wrote:
The Selaron Steps is very cool with all its colored teils and bohemian vibe.
5. Loretta Chapel, Santa Fe
One of the most famous spiral staircases in the world is in Loretta Chapel, Santa Fe. The staircase has no nails, no visible support, and it has two 350 degree turns.
Laura from New Jersey said:
Hands down. The Loretto Chapel Staircase in Santa Fe NM. Look them up. They have a very mysterious story to them!
Loretta Chapel’s staircase has appeared in movies and also in exclusive documentaries, including “Unsolved Mysteries.” Shauna explained:
Loretta Chapel: Great story that at the time of the completion in 1878, there was no way to get to the choir loft. Carpenters were called in, and they had no right solution that wouldn’t ruin the design. The nuns decided prayers were in order and created a vigil. On the 9th day, a stranger walked in looking for work, and it turned out he was a carpenter. After the completion of this magnificent staircase, he was never seen again.
6. Staircase of Pailon del Diablo (The Devil’s Cauldron), Ecuador
One of the most dramatic staircases located inches from a waterfall is the staircase of Pailon Del Diablo waterfall located about 30 minutes from Banos, Ecuador. To experience the thrill, walk up the hundreds of steps carved out of the cliffs by the waterfall for a view of the waterfall and surrounding area. Trippy user Kelley loved the experience.
7. Vatican Museums Bramante Staircase and Giuseppe Momo’s 1930s staircase Vatican City
— AFP Photo (@AFPphoto) July 30, 2015
Jessica, a Trippy user, loved Vatican Museums’ spiral staircases. The Vatican Museums began as a collection of private works by Pope Julius in the 16th century. Currently, the Museums houses over 70,000 works related to the Catholic world. But among the top attractions at the Vatican Museums is the Bramante Staircase, an architectural treasure, built in 1505.
The Bramante Staircase is not open to the general public, but the modern Giuseppe Momo’s 1930s staircase is what most visitors see when visiting Vatican Museums.
8. The Vessel, New York City
The Vessel in Hudson Yards New York City is one of the newest attractions in the city. It’s a structure with a network of 154 interconnected flights of stairs, 2,500 individual steps, and 80 landings. It’s an impressive masterpiece and a place to enjoy views of New York City.
9. Casa Batlló, Barcelona
Tiffany recommended checking out the staircase in Casa Batlló by Gaudi. The wooden staircase in the entrance hall has a handrail made out of wood that looks like the spine of a large animal that winds up to the next floor of this Catalan Modernist building.
10. 16th Avenue Mosaic Staircase, San Francisco
Do you know about San Francisco’s secret tiled staircase? The 16th Avenue Staircase is 163 steps of mosaic tiles, a colorful staircase hidden in the quiet Sunset district of San Francisco. Those who find the staircase will be rewarded with sweeping views of the city. pic.twitter.com/HYqCE1w5yr
— Paul Vattiato (@cruiseoptics) January 25, 2019
16th Avenue Mosaic Staircase in Golden Gate Heights San Francisco is a community project started by the neighborhood residents with the help of artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher. There are 163 steps covered with over 2000 handmade tiles, 75,000 pieces of stained glass, mirror, and colorful tile fragments.
11. Krabi Tiger Cave Temple, Krabi Thailand
Don from Kathmandu wrote:
Tiger Temple, Krabi: the 1237 step pilgrimage to the footprint of the Buddha. The steps are rutty, in spots well off their original path, winding through trees sheltering generations of monkeys who don’t mind letting we mere moral pilgrims know who runs the show. The base area, gift show, snack area, etc., has become a bit of a show. The top, however, and the views from that place are worth every sweaty step.
12. Chateau de Chambord, Chambord France
Chateau de Chambord exemplifies the impressive French Renaissance and Medieval Revival architecture of the 16th century. A unique feature of the castle is the double helix staircase, where two people can walk down the stairs without the need to cross paths.
Roxanne from Montreal mentioned that about Château de Chambord:
The other is the main double elliptic staircases at the Château de Chambord. Two staircases intertwined one into the other. Apparently, the king didn’t want to see much of the queen, so they had one staircase each going to the same place but never seeing each other coming or going.
13. Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon, Mexico
Trippy user Richard from LA said:
The first thing that comes to mind is the stone stairs on the Aztec’s Pyramid of the Moon and Pyramid of the Sun.
Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon is located in the ancient city of Teotihuacan, thirty miles northeast of Mexico City. Teotihuacan was the first metropolis and the most powerful in the Americas. The 2000-year-old Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon, each have over 200 steep staircases that lead to the top.
14. Livraria Lello, Porto
Laura from Buenos Aires mentioned Livraria Lello in Porto. Livraria Lello is one of the oldest and most beautiful bookstores in the world. Located in Porto, Portugal, this bookstore is said to have brought inspiration to JK Rowling in her Harry Potter books. She lived in Porto from 1991 to 1993 and visited the bookstore frequently.
The Neo-Gothic interior features the iconic red curvaceous staircase in the middle of the building that leads up to the second floor.
15. Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur
The only way to reach Batu Caves Temple, Gallery, and Museum is through the 272 colorful and steep steps. Trippy user Katie said:
Visiting the Batu Caves Temple is free. The temple is a beautiful sight in which there are flights of steps to reach there. Remember to take a camera and its a beautiful site to take pictures. Feeding the monkeys around the temple only cost peanuts. Then take a train down to the city, which only costs barely $1.
Just like many temples in Asia, Batu Caves has its fair share of monkeys roaming around the steps and the temple grounds.
16. Sigiriya Rock, Sri Lanka
Looming over 590 feet, the Sigiriya Rock Fortress in central Sri Lanka is a massive rock formed from magma. When King Kashyapa I ruled the region from 477 to 495, he built a fortress and palace on top of the rock with a moat, gardens, and fountains at the entrance of Sigiriya Rock.
It’s not easy to get to the top of Sigiriya Rock. There are 1,200 steps – the first series of steps will lead to the Terrace Garden, then to spiral staircases to the Sigiriya Damsels and to a set of cliff-hanging steep steps to the Mirror Wall and Lion’s Gate. After the Lion’s Gate are more steep steps to the top where you can see the remains of the palace and enjoy the 360-degree views of central Sri Lanka.
Nalin from Cypress shared his thoughts, he said:
I have seen some, but the ones that stand out for me are at Sigiriya Rock Fortress. There are several other staircases at this place as it was built on top of a vast rock back in BC’s.
17. Lednice Castle staircase, Czech Republic
In Lednice Castle, there is a spiral staircase carved from a single tree in 1851. Located inside the castle’s library, this Neo-Gothic style castle in South Moravia is in the wine region of the Czech Republic. Lenice Castle is about a two and a half hour drive from Prague.
So beautiful ..A spiral staircase carved from one a tree in 1851…Lednice Castle Czech Republic. 💖
Made from the wood of a single oak tree, not carved as one piece ,made and joined using wooden pegs not nails. pic.twitter.com/CSLUubsFYI
— 💖 🆂🅰🆂🆂🆈_🅱🅻🅾🅽🅳🅴 (at 🏡) 💖 (@Lady44Sassy) May 5, 2020
18. Potemkin Stairs, Odessa Ukraine
Potemkinskaya Lestnitsa or Potemkin Stairs is an important landmark in Odessa, a port city on the Black Sea coast of Southern Ukraine. The stairs were constructed in 1841 to connect the city center to the port. Originally with 200 steps, but after the construction of Primorsky Street in 1866, there were only 192.
You get a different visual effect when looking at the stairs from the top and the bottom. From the top, you’ll see the landings, and from the bottom, you’ll only see the steps.
19. Santuario do Bom Jesus do Monte, Portugal
Santuario do Bom Jesus do Monte (Church of Good Jesus of the Mount) staircase is known as the Stairway of the Five Senses. The 500 plus zig-zagging steps were constructed to represent the five senses – sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch with five fountains representing each of the senses. The stairs have 17 landings decorated with the fountains and statues and Baroque style decors.
Located in Braga, a town in northern Portugal, about an hour’s drive from Porto.
20. Woman’s Board Grand Staircase, Chicago
The Woman’s Board Grand Staircase inside The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the most impressive in America, Trippy user Lauren from Chicago pointed out. She wrote:
The Art Institute of Chicago has a beautiful and frequently photographed staircase….
Located off the Michigan Avenue lobby, this Beaux-Arts style marble staircase is one of the most sought after venues for wedding photography in Chicago.