Someone once said that while elevators are more convenient, staircases can be a veritable “window to the world.” Whether they go through the water, such as Holland’s Moses Bridge or are actually etched into the very face of the rock like the 700+ steps in Colombia’s Stone of El Peñol, staircases can serve not only a function but have an aesthetic role too. In fact, some staircases are so blatantly beautiful one might almost forget their function. Mind you, veteran visitors advise visitors that if they are afraid of heights, some of these stairways should be avoided. On the other hand, if you don’t suffer from acrophobia, you will enjoy seeing these 20 beautiful public staircases as you travel the world.
1. Bom Jesus do Monte Church
The Bom Jesus do Monte (Good Jesus of the Mount) Church is located in Braga, Portugal. It opened in 1772. Those who wish to climb to the top of the church must climb 381 feet. This Baroque stairway has an iconic zig-zag pattern. It was deemed an official UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2019.
2. Dongdaemun Design Plaza
The Dongdaemun Design Plaza can be found in Seoul in South Korea. It was designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid in collaboration with a South Korean company called Samoo. The stunning staircase here in the plaza is said by those in the know to be a truly “dizzying display” of Hadid’s work.
3. Melk Abbey
The aptly named Melk Abbey, constructed in 1673, is located in Melk, Austria. It overlooks the well-known Danube River and provides visitors with some dramatic views of the surrounding area. Still, a lot of tourists come here not only for the memorable view but for the view inside as well. Those in the know note this is mainly because of the beautiful Baroque spiral staircase found there.
4. Innovative Space Asia Hub
The Innovative Space Asia Hub located in Singapore was designed by a local architecture company called WOHA. The building is impressive because it combines both historic and modern architecture. Construction was completed in 2011, and today the building is used for many different purposes including both events and dining.
5. The Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums are in Rome, Italy. They are the Vatican’s public art and sculpture museums. Here you will find a very old spiral staircase.
Some say it is the most beautiful part of the place. It is called the Bramante Staircase. The first one was actually built in 1505. The current staircase was erected in 1932.
Located on the tip of South America, Patagonia is shared by both Argentina and Chile. It is arguably one of the world’s most impressive natural wonders. The wooden steps here were specifically made for hikers to enable them to explore the must-see wilderness here.
7. Heaven’s Gate Mountain
Ensconced in the Tianmen Mountain National Park in Zhangjiajie in southeastern China, the famous Heaven’s Gate Mountain gives travelers the opportunity to actually walk up a real mountain. Upon reaching the top of this staircase, your efforts will be rewarded with a decidedly spectacular view of the entire divide via a large 431-foot tall natural opening in the mountain itself.
8. Chand Baori
The Chand Baori can be found in Abhaneri in India. It was constructed during 800 and 900 A.D. Chand Baori is said by veteran visitors to be one of the most attractive and oldest landmarks anywhere in northwest India. It consists of approximately 3500 steps that funnel about 100 feet deep. earth.
9. The Staircases in Santorini
Santorini is a small, popular Greek island found in the sparkling Aegean Sea. The isle is famous for some of the planet’s most memorable views, its trademark whitewashed buildings and homes that are situated all along the charming, craggy coastline. These various buildings naturally have staircases that allow visitors to enjoy spectacular views of the ocean.
10. The Würzburg Residence
Found in Würzburg, in southern Germany, the Würzburg Residence was erected in the mid-1700s. The building is an excellent example of the world’s finest Baroque architecture. Veteran visitors report that the staircases here are amongst the most impressive parts of the residence. They run under the largest fresco on the planet. Specifically, it is a stunning painting of the various elements of every single continent on earth.
11. Pompidou Centre
Situated in Paris, France, the Pompidou Centre was designed by the award-winning architect Renzo Piano back in the 1970s. It is specifically located in Paris’ fourth arrondissement. This well-known building hosts a number of different cultural institutions such as the popular Musée National d’Art Moderne. It is Europe’s biggest museum of modern art. The building itself, which doesn’t hide the structure’s exoskeleton, features a distinctive street-facing staircase.
12. The Vessel
The Vessel is in New York City, New York. It is an impressive interactive sculpture featuring a network of landings and stairs that people can climb to the top. It was designed by English designer Thomas Heatherwick (who was chosen over such other architectural Illuminati as Anish Kapoor).
The purpose of the Vessel was to create balance and harmony within a grid of vertical glass and metal. Each level was coated with noncorrosive steel. It’s supposed to mirror the movement and action below and above the 150-foot high vessel’s every level. This makes it more interactive.
13. El Peñon de Guatape
El Peñon de Guatape can be found near Medellin in Colombia. It is roughly 40+ miles east of the Colombian city. It is a towering 7,000-foot rock that has become a major landmark in the area. More energetic travelers can climb to the top of the 600 stairs and see all of the marshlike, sweeping landscape.
14. Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is one of Peru’s biggest attractions. It towers 8,000-plus feet above sea level. It is essentially the remains of an Incan civilization. Today it is one of the famous seven wonders of the world.
There is only one way though to totally experience the full grandeur of this place. In order to reach the different summits, you must climb thousands of stairs. Those who have already made the arduous trek say that the views make it all worthwhile.
15. Tiger and Turtle Magic Mountain
The incredible Tiger & Turtle Magic Mountain is located in Duisburg, Germany. The exciting Tiger & Turtle Magic Mountain is reported to be like no other roller coaster on the planet because people must actually walk throughout the entire structure.
It was designed by German artists Ulrich Genth and Heike Mutter. Honestly, the loop is really less of an actual amusement ride and more of a sculpture. Still, those who make the effort will not only get a good workout but will also be able to take in some incredible views of Duisburg’s countryside.
16. The climb to the top of Sanxiantai Island
If you’re going to Taiwan be sure to stop in Sanxiantai. Here adventurous visitors can use a series of beautiful arched bridges to actually hike to Sanxiantai Island. Once you are actually on the island itself, you can also climb up to the top of it where you will be able to take in unmatched views of the Pacific Ocean.
17. Alishan Siding Yunhai
Alishan Siding Yunhai is situated in Chiayi County in Taiwan. If you’re into incredible views the top of any of the mountains here in Alishan Siding Yunhai will do the trick. Those in the know say they are “truly breathtaking.” So climb the series of wooden paths and see all you can see. The sunrises and sunsets are particularly recommended and will make it well worth it.
18. Moses Bridge
Moses Bridge can be found in Halsteren, Netherlands. The bridge is aptly named as it does have a biblical quality or two. It is built of waterproof wood, much like Noah’s Ark and parts the sea and permits visitors to stay dry while walking through a moat.
The bridge certainly does not appear to be high tech. But online sources confirm that the company that designed the bridge, RO&AD architects, the firm actually included adjustable dams on both sides of the moat in order to ensure that the water’s height can always be controlled.
19. The Taihang Mountains staircase
The Taihang Mountains are situated in Linzhou, China. The impressive spiral staircase next to them is for the stout of heart only. You must be no older than 59 years old to even attempt to use this staircase.
20. An “Endless Staircase”
If you go to Munich, Germany be sure to stop by the office building that houses the KPMG auditing firm by the famous Danish-Icelandic artist and sculptor Olafur Eliasson.
So there you have it, dear readers, the top 20 most beautiful public staircases in the world. You may never find your stairway to heaven but these particular staircases are certainly a step up from your everyday standard stairwell. So what are you waiting for? Get to steppin’ and take a walk on the wild side!