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World's most amazing staircases
  • This spectacular handrail designed by Giuseppe Momo in 1932 is a masterpiece of the Vatican Museums in Italy. It is unlikely that when commissioning it the Vatican expected the Simonetti Staircase to become one of the most photographed pieces in the museums - but it did! Made up of two wrought iron stairways (one going up and one coming down) that curve in a double helix, the Momo Staircase, as it is also known, was once used by all visitors to the museums on their way in but the entrance has been moved so it is no longer on the route. Be sure to stop and admire it on your way out.

  • This cool sculpture is a piece of art designed by Danish artist Olafur Eliasson, which the office workers of global accounting firm KPMG in Munich can enjoy on their way in to work. The architectural staircase, called Umschreibung (Rewriting), is a nine-metre-high double spiral of sleek steel. While it doesn't actually lead to anywhere and cannot be climbed, it makes for a great view - especially when looking for a distraction from work!

  • This impressive staircase can be found in Melk Abbey, one of the world's most famous monastic sites located above the town of Melk and overlooking the river Danube. The rooms of the castle-turned-monastery contain permanent exhibitions and visitors come from all over the world to browse its ornate library and famous frescoes by Paul Troger. Don't miss the marble hall, a stunning example of Baroque architecture.

  • The famous Chand Baori step well in the village of Abhaneri in Rajasthan, India, is one of the country's architectural wonders and one of the most intriguing staircases in the world. The step well is located opposite Harshat Mata Temple and was built in the ninth century with 3,500 narrow steps and 13 stories. With a depth of 100ft, it is the deepest step well in India and was constructed to try to solve the problem of water shortages in Rajasthan.

  • One of the most exquisite bookshops in the world, Livrario Lello in the Portuguese city of Porto is home to this lavish red staircase, making its interior as stunning as its incredible Art Nouveau and Gothic Revival facade. Lello is one of the oldest bookshops in Portugal and opened in 1901. While the staircase is its centrepiece, with carved wooden banisters and glossy red steps, the shop also features a marvellous stained glass ceiling and ornate wooden shelves holding books from every era and genre.

  • China's piano style stairs built at Wulin Plaza in Hangzhou make the appropriate musical notes when stood on. The 54 steps were installed to encourage people to walk instead of lazily take the escalator. The only problem could be too much noise if everyone starts taking the stairs!

  • The wonderful staircase at Hartenfels Castle dates back to the 16th century and resembles a snail's shell. During East German times it had to be closed to the public due to its decaying condition and in 1991 the first plans were initiated to restore the intriguing stairway made from sandstone and consisting of 53 steps. The stairs are around 20 metres high and are situated in the inner courtyard of the castle in Torgau.

  • The Grand Staircase within the St Pancras Renaissance London Hotel is known as one of Europe's grandest stairways and is among the most beautiful hotel staircases in the world. It has been the backdrop to films, such as Batman Returns, and the Spice Girls' music video for the song Wannabe. Blessed with a cathedral-like ceiling thanks to Sir Gilbert Scott's design it is now a stairway to explore and discover the Victorian age of industry and commerce.

  • It may look like a rollercoaster but this unusual sculpture is in fact a staircase stretched through all kinds of curves. Located in Duisburg, Germany, the Tiger & Turtle - Magic Mountain sculpture is the creation of German artists Heike Mutter and Ulrich Genth. The interactive sculpture features 249 steps for visitors to explore in the day, when they can take in the views above the Rhine, and at night when the LED lights on the handrails illuminate the staircase. The loop is the only part that cannot be climbed and is closed off by a barrier.

  • This Brazilian masterpiece in Rio is the work of Chilean-born artist Jorge Selaron who considers it as 'a personal tribute to the Brazilian people.' Selaron's Stairs, a mosaic staircase made from vibrant yellow, green and blue tiles inspired by the Brazilian flag, connects the neighbourhoods of Santa Teresa and Lapa. The staircase consists of 250 steps and measures 125m long. Selaron began work on the stairway in 1990, creating a constantly evolving piece of art, which now has over 2,000 brightly-coloured tiles collected from over 60 countries. The 65-year-old claims 'this crazy and unique dream will only end on the day of my death.'

  • The privately-owned Palazzo Biscari in Catania is home to this stunning white Rococo-style staircase decorated with stucco and beautiful frescoes above the door of the gallery. Built in the 17th century, the palace features a large double staircase in the inner courtyard, the Feasts Hall with a complex arrangement of mirrors, stuccoes and frescoes painted by Matteo Desiderato, plus a small dome for the orchestra. Image: Domenica Prinzivalli / Flickr/Mire74

  • Get ready to climb if you're visiting the Portuguese sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga, as its monumental Baroque staircase is one of its best features, climbing 116 metres. The glorious ornamental stairway of granite and white plaster was commissioned by Braga's vertically challenged archbishop in 1723 and took 60 years to complete. Although there is no reason for its presence, the staircase remains the object of devoted pilgrimage and many penitents climb up on their knees.

  • The most prominent interior features of the New York State Capitol building are its three major staircases, which were lavishly carved in a variety of stone. The Million Dollar Staircase, officially named the Great Western Staircase, took 14 years to construct, from 1883 to 1897. As you may have guessed by its name, the staircase cost more than one million dollars. It was designed by Henry Hobson Richardson and built by Isaac Perry, and is renowned as an outstanding example of American architectural stone-carving excellence containing 444 steps and reaching a height of 119ft. Over 500 stone cutters and carvers were employed at various times to complete the staircase and it features famous American faces, such as Lincoln, Washington and Grant, beautifully carved into the sandstone.

  • Located on the a man-made island in Doha Bay in Qatar, the Museum of Islamic Art houses a collection of 4,500 pieces of Islamic art. The building's own masterpiece is its grand double staircase set below a geometric dome in the main entrance of the museum. The steps are cut into its underside giving the illusion of an upside down staircase.

  • With striped stairs that create a dizzying effect when reflected in the mirrored walls and sparkly chandeliers, this staircase at luxury five-star Parisian hotel Le Royal Monceau - Raffles Paris is the masterpiece of designer Philippe Starck who transformed the hotel in 2010 and created a sleek and stylish stairway. There's more to the hotel than spectacular steps, such as a cool cinema, 149 bedrooms reflecting Starck's fresh style and one of Paris's largest hotel swimming pools.

  • Created by Irish ceramist Aileen Barr and mosaic artist Colette Crutcher, The 16th Avenue Tiled Steps, tucked away in the quiet neighbourhood of Golden Gate Heights on 16th and Moraga, is a stunning work of art and one of San Francisco's hidden gems. The 163 steps contain 2,000 handmade tiles and 75,000 fragments of tile, mirror and stained glass, which make up scenes of the land, sea and sky. The project involved community workshops and donated tiles were incorporated into the design with over 200 local residents helping to create the panels.

  • In London, the elegant Tulip Stairs of the Queen's House in Greenwich were the first geometric self-supporting spiral stairs in Britain. Although the stairs are named after tulips, it is believed the flowers in the wrought-iron balustrade are actually fleurs-de-lis. The Tulip Stairs are the location of Rev R. W. Hardy's famous 'ghost' photograph, taken on 19 June 1966, which revealed what appeared to be two or three shrouded figures on the staircase.

  • Adorned with a plethora of arches and resembling the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the external spiral staircase of the small Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo in Venice is the building's best known feature. Known as the Scala Contarini del Bovolo (of the snail), the staircase leads to an arcade, offering a charming panoramic view over the rooftops of Venice.

  • Dame Zaha Hadid was the creator of the sleek, futuristic staircase at Rome's Maxxi - National Museum of the 21st Century Arts. The architect used swooping curves, impossible angles and dramatic views to style the museum of 21st-century art's staircase in 2009. What's more, the extraordinary stairs were finished in the thick black primer used as an undercoat for new cars and they rise up through the lobby with bare metal treads, disappearing far into the museum. Stairs aside, the Maxxi National Museum consists of two museums - MAXXI art and MAXXI architecture and there is a large outdoor courtyard for large-scale works of art to be installed.

  • We're in love with this elegant staircase at the Electoral Palace in the city of Trier, Germany. The south wing stairway oozes rococo glamour and style, and was the creation of artists Johannes Siez and Ferdinand Tietz in 1756. The building is one of the last examples of German Renaissance architecture and was once the residence of the Archbishop of Mainz.