The Most Terrifying Spiral Staircases on Earth

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  • Image: Craig Morey

    Glasgow lighthouse

    Quite apart from the fact that they simply make you dizzy beyond belief, spiral staircases are definitely not for the faint of heart, as this post will show. They are often in lofty places, or the opposite, cramped dungeons, so mastering a spiral staircase is not a question of simply walking up or down.

    Claustrophobia, vertigo-inducing views and stomach-churning heights have to be braved because of those adventurous minds that installed spiral staircases in the scariest of places.

  • Image: Ray Tomes

    Long way down and low handrail at a tall pagoda in Singapore

  • Image: Darnyi Zsóka

    Like a slightly heart-shaped vortex: Don’t get sucked in

  • Image: Ksionic

    The square yet spiral staircase in an old apartment house in Hong Kong. Is that a trap door at the bottom?

  • Image: via cedarcreektreehouse

    Treehouse: Here’s a view from low down

    Next, on to a treehouse: at 80 ft in height, the spiral staircase winding around a fir tree at Cedar Creek Treehouse, Mt. Rainier, is called “Stairway to Heaven”.

  • Image: via cedarcreektreehouse

    Treehouse from up top

    The reason it’s called “Stairway to Heaven”? It leads to Cedar Creek Observatory, reachable via a 43 ft-long suspension bridge.

  • Image: via cedarcreektreehouse

    Almost there: The treehouse observatory

    We’re not sure what’s scarier: the climb up the tree, or the walk across the bridge.

  • Image: Greg Gladman

    Old chimney in Terrassa, Spain

    This scary outside staircase winds its way around the chimney of the old Bóbila Almirall in Terrassa, Catalonia. At 63 m, it is the world’s tallest chimney with a spiral staircase. In case you’re contemplating going up, it’s 234 steps to the top and there’s not much of a handrail to hold on to!

  • Image: Antonis Lamnatos

    Looking up at the lighthouse in Brunate, Italy

    Lighthouse stairs definitely have their scary element, given their height and the claustrophobia factor.

  • Image: Cathy Stanley-Erickson

    Santa Barbara lighthouse with see-through staircase

    And fire escapes and building staircases can be scary if the view down makes your stomach feel queasy. We’ve found a few that fit the description.

  • Image: Till Krech

    Inside the Julius Tower in Berlin Spandau

    This image was taken inside the 30 m tall Julius Tower. It is part of the Spandau Citadel, one of Europe’s most important Renaissance forts, built between 1559 and 1594. Its famous wooden spiral staircase was reconstructed in 1964 after the neo-Gothic one of 1843.

  • Image: Paul Keleher

    Only in emergencies: Old fire escape on a building in Boston

  • Image: via atlasobscura

    Moaning Cavern: Dark, rickety and claustrophobic

    Those who like to go spelunking may want to tour California’s Moaning Cavern. Just be warned that this rickety looking staircase is part of the package…

  • Image: lemoncat1

    Statue of Liberty: Looking up at the steel construction

    The Statue of Liberty in New York, though exhilarating to get to, rich in history and an important monument, is not for those with an aversion to cramped spaces and climbing tiny, dizzying steps in one direction.

  • Image: lemoncat1

    Statue of Liberty: This staircase used to take tourists up – no longer because of security reasons

  • Image: Katy Warner

    Climbing up to the crown: Statue of Liberty

  • Image: Jim Gordon

    Iraq’s Malwiya Tower

    Then, there are buildings that are only staircases – the spiral minaret, or Malwiya Tower, above at the Great Mosque of Samarra, 125 km (78 miles) north of Baghdad, is one of them. Commissioned and built in the 9th century, at 52 m high and 33 m wide at the base, it was for a long time the world’s largest mosque. Though the ramp spiraling up to the top is quite broad, there’s no protection on the sides; one step too far and it’s a free fall down.

  • Image: Izzedine

    Malwiya: Here’s an image with people, tiny in comparison

  • Image: wendy

    Sagrada Familia: This is just the beginning…

    Anyone who has been inside the Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s monumental church in Barcelona, Spain, will agree that its long and winding stone staircases in each 170 m-tall spire are by far the building’s scariest features – about 20 stories tall without a handrail.

  • Image: Reckless

    Or option 2: Sagrada Familia’s elevator

  • Image: Travis Miller

    Sagrada Familia: Before you know it, you look down at something like this

    Talking about how he took this shot, photographer Travis Miller says: “I was the only person in the towers this day and going down was quite the mental challenge to keep my mind focused on the task at hand… don’t know if I could handle it today… I was tottering quite badly.”

  • Image: Gary Denham

    We don’t blame Travis for his feelings of vertigo! Great capture given the mental challenge. We’ll leave you with this thought and would love to hear which of the staircases shown here is your personal scariest.

    Sources: 1, 2

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Simone Preuss
Simone Preuss
Scribol Staff
Art and Design
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