Top 10 Amazing and Unusual Staircases

For many, stairs are something to avoid, unless you’re determined to lose some weight. But lovers of nature and spectacular views are more than used to climbing steps and yet more steps to gain the view through this list of steps may be a challenge for those who get a little dizzy…

Top 10 Amazing and Unusual Staircases

Staircase in Pailon del Diablo, Banos, Ecuador
Staircase in Pailon del Diablo, Banos, Ecuador

10 – Where you are: Peldaños del Cañón  (Rungs of the Canyon)

Where are they going? Designed to descend to the bottom of one of the most famous waterfalls in South America,  lost in the fog along the way in many cases. It is extremely slippery and steep for several tens of metres to a lookout where you can see the dramatic effect, accompanied by hummingbirds, gulls and other local birds

Staircase in Rajasthan, India
Staircase in Rajasthan, India

9 – The Step-well of Chand Baori near Jaipur, Rajasthan

Where are they going? These steps lead down to a huge pool, built-in the tenth century to overcome the lack of rainfall in the region and store water for long periods. The structure has a total of 3,500 steps, down to a depth of 30 metres — then up again with the water.

Staircase in Elbe Sandstone Mountains Dresden
Staircase in Elbe Sandstone Mountains Dresden

8 – Stairs Elbe Sandstone Mountains Dresden, Germany

Where are they going? Stairs carved into the stone of the mountain itself. They date from the 13th century and have been eroded by wind and water, but are still being used daily by tourists.  487steps, though not enough, were restored and expanded in the eighteenth century to facilitate transit.

Staircase in Guatapé Antioquia
Staircase in Guatapé Antioquia

7 – The Rock of Guatapé Antioquia, Colombia

Where are they going? The rock is a stone monolith 220 metres high. The steps are constructed with cement, directly on the rock, making use of a natural cleavage. 702 steps must be climbed to reach the peak.

Staircase in Haiku
Staircase in Haiku

6 – The ladder Haiku: Oahu, Hawaii

Where are they going? On the small island of Oahu, there is this tremendous journey of 3922 steps, climbing, across and down a hill of 850 metres. They were created to facilitate the installation of a satellite in 1942.  Originally of  wood, they were modernised in the ’50s, but since 1987 have been closed to the public.

Staircase on the Inca Trail
Staircase on the Inca Trail

5 – The Inca Trail: Peru

Where are they going?  An ancient trade route linking the city of Cuzco to Machu Pichu.   The rugged topography of the area forced the Inca Trail to make detours around hills and between mountains. The result: miles and miles of stairs, in some cases very precarious, as the famous floating staircases.

Staircase in Aketx, Basque County
Staircase in Aketx, Basque County

4 – Ladder Via Crucis: Bermeo, Basque Country, Spain

Where are they going? This endless row of stairs is attached to the rocky coast where there is a small church dating from the tenth century and seemingly of Templar origin. To reach the hermitage of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, one has to climb 231 steps and there are gaps in the steps that are identified as the footsteps of St. John himself, which are given different healing powers. For example, you have to put your feet in them as a cure for corns, or leave hats, scarves or chapelas, to cure a headache.

Staircase in Taihang Mountains, China
Staircase in Taihang Mountains, China

3 – Taihang Mountains:  provinces of Shanxi and Henan, China.

Where are they going? This spiral staircase of almost 100 metres was installed recently in an attempt to attract tourists to the beautiful Taihang Mountains. Before undertaking the ascent, visitors are asked to sign forms to ensure they do not have heart or lung problems and are under age 60.  And a slip on the narrow metal ladder can certainly lead to heaven, as in the Led Zeppelin song.

Staircase in Wayna Pichu at Machu Pichu, Peru
Staircase in Wayna Pichu at Machu Pichu, Peru

2 – Wayna Pichu: Machu Picchu, Peru

Where are they going? Stairs carved into the rock that crowns a climb of about 360 metres from MachuPicchu itself.   In some parts, the ascent is complicated to pass through narrow sections, with small, steep steps that have eroded in places. Climbing time is calculated to be between one hour and 90 minutes: 90 minutes climbing stairs! Only 400 tourists a day are allowed, and access is closed from 1 pm, just in case.

Staircase in Law Courts Building in downtown Vancouver
Staircase in Law Courts Building in downtown Vancouver

1 – Robson Square · Vancouver, British Columbia

With disabled people in mind this architect designed the most awesome stairs with full wheelchair access! It is the perfect set up and most likely the future of staircases.

131 thoughts on “Top 10 Amazing and Unusual Staircases”

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  10. These are some very unusual staircases in this list, and I have only seen 3 of them. The rest of the scary looking ones I will give a miss.

  11. The stairs in #9 have been used in at least one movie (and probably more), but #1 takes the cake this time… beautiful and practical at the same time!

  12. Another great showcase Russell!

    The stairs in #9 have been used in at least one movie (and probably more), but #1 takes the cake this time… beautiful and practical at the same time!

  13. Love this! I thought #9 was a painting at first lol
    So interesting to learn about different parts of the world and the reason for the stairs being how they are. It’s a shame that #6 is closed. It looks like it would be a gorgeous climb and descent and everything in between.
    I think #4 is my favorite. I’m a little in between that one, #6 and #10.

  14. I’m not sure I can even write after looking at those. I feel faint! I almost fell out of my chair on a couple of those staircase pics. The steps that went into the well were certainly very clever! The worn out steps were terrifying.

  15. Fabulous … although I feel dizzy just looking at the pictures. Don’t think I could climb … would want to climb, any of those except Robson Square!

  16. Wow! I’ve been to #6 and #9 and would love to experience the rest as well – pretty sure some of them would make me pee myself just a tiny bit, but still… 😀

  17. I felt a little queasy while looking at these photos. It would take a very stout heart to traverse the steepness and height of these stairways. The 13th century steps in Germany reminded me of the steps Sam and Frodo took on their way into Mordor; I wonder if Tolkien knew of them.

  18. 1980! That does surprise me, and I think it is an absolute shame that no-one has even tried to do so much as copy it because it not only makes sense but also saves money designing a separate wheelchair ramp. With this staircase everyone really is a winner!

  19. Russell, with all the interest that stairs #1 has generated I decided to look a little further so set TinEye to evaluate the picture and look for the original posts. When it found the original I was very surprised to find that the building was made way back in 1980!

    Why have we not seen more stairs designed like this?

  20. If I were to climb one of these staircases, it would have to be number one – no head for heights :-/ Truly amazing to see and even more so to think of them being built!

  21. Most of those are too scary looking for me to even contemplate doing. Number 7 looks like a big long shoe lace. I’m thinking of the views and the photo opportunities, but am getting scared just looking at the heights. Damn.

  22. Wow, those are incredible! For the most part they are also terrifying. I wouldn’t mind trying the ones in BC, Machu Pichu or Spain, though… maybe!

  23. It’s sad to think that the only way a person is to enjoy awesome stairways is to go outside the US & Hawaii.

  24. Reblogged this on Three Dot … and commented:
    Russell Deasley’s blog “The Top 10 of Anything and Everything” is my favorite of all of the blogs I follow. I look forward to every post, particularly his “Caturday” blog, which always provides an interesting take on our furry feline friends. Today’s post, however, really grabbed me (for reasons which family and friends who know of my fear of heights will redily understand!). So, check it out … and if you like, “follow” Russell’s blog. You will be entertained, and often amazed, but what you’ll see.

  25. this was truly breath taking… also since i’ll be doing top tens all this month feel free to come by and lemme know if i’m on the right track 🙂

  26. Reblogged this on digger666 and commented:
    All of these are awesome; some (most?) I’d be wary of trying; and one or two demand Led Zeppelin is on your iPod.

  27. Ye Gods and Little Fishes!!!!!!!! Just the places for someone with a fear of heights. I suspect one just concentrates on one step at a time rather than the stairway as a whole. Certainly anyone willing to go is treated to spectacular views and experiences. I am in awe of the people who built them, especially the floating stair case and the spiral one. This is the only way I will ever see such wonders – I don’t think I would qualify to climb any of them – over 60 among other things.

  28. These are all superb, although some do make me break out in a cold sweat – it’s that vertigo thing again so I think the Vancouver steps are my favourite too. Good to know I could be infirm and still get up these ones :>.

  29. Wow, thanks Russell for the attribution. I have no idea who put the original email together nor who may have authored the words but I acknowledge their work and thank them for their efforts.
    These steps are all awesome in their own way but #1 shows such forethought and ingenuity along with style that it has to be my favourite. In so many countless examples of modern architecture we find stairs are an anathema to those of us required to travel in wheelchairs or of limited mobility. As a young adult I used to love jumping up stairs in a personal race to the top but now in my declining years just climbing 6 steps is something to make me pause and re-consider.
    Yet in #1 we find the perfect combination of form and function for both the fit and active and those of less than good fitness and ability. If only that design could be retrofitted to all those places where ramps for the disabled have been an afterthought and the installation of them has messed up things for both groups of users.
    Again, thank you for the attribution.

  30. What a thoroughly amazing sight. Makes you wonder about so many things. Including the likely amount of pain in the fall to any precipice shown above. How on earth did the carvers manage such things.

  31. Oh dear me…no thank you..hahaha. I got tired by even looking at them..LOL!
    Great staircases though. Thanks for sharing Russell. 😉

  32. I felt queasy just looking at these staircases. Most of them don’t look very safe. I’d be happy to use Number 1 though. It’s not halfway up a mountain or hanging off a cliff!

Which one did you like?