While some were designed by starchitects such as Renzo Piano, others were envisioned by people thousands of years ago, yet all have the same quality of taking your breath away
Sure, elevators are more convenient, but staircases provide a window to the world so rarely seen from any other vantage point. No matter if they are etched into the side of a rock face, as the 740 steps are at Colombia's 10-million-ton Stone of El PeĂ±ol, or cut through water, like the Moses Bridge in southern Holland: Staircases not only provide a functional role, but oftentimes an aesthetic one as well. And it's with the most beautiful staircases that function is frequently forgotten, as the structure is almost entirely appreciated for its ability to take our breath away. Of course, if you're afraid of heights, maybe some of these structures are not for you. But if acrophobia is not an issue, be sure to visit these 19 public staircases as you trek across the globe. One small word of advice: Remember to lace up your shoes.
Dongdaemun Design Plaza (Seoul, South Korea)
Designed by Zaha Hadid (in collaboration with the South Korean firm Samoo), the staircase within Seoul's Dongdaemun Design Plaza is a dizzying display of the late architects work.
Melk Abbey (Melk, Austria)
Originally built in 1673, Austria's Melk Abbey overlooks the Danube River, making for some of the most dramatic views in the area. But many visit the abbey, not for the views looking out, but more for the view from within. And much of that is due to a Baroque spiral staircase within the church.
Innovative Space Asia Hub (Singapore)
Designed by WOHA, a Singapore-based architecture firm, the Innovative Space Asia Hub is a stunning building that blends modern and historic architecture. The building was completed in 2011, and is used for a wide range of purposes including dining as well as an event space.
The Vatican Museums (Rome, Italy)
The Vatican Museums's old spiral staircase is one of the most beautiful parts of the space. Known as the Bramante Staircase, the original was built in 1505, which the new one (pictured) was completed in 1932.
Patagonia, Chile & Argentina
These wooden steps were made specifically for hikers exploring the wilderness of Patagonia. Located along the tip of South America, Patagonia is one of the most stunning natural wonders of the world, and should be a must-visit for anyone able to trek through the elements.
Heavenâs Gate Mountain (Zhangjiajie, China)
Located within Tianmen Mountain National Park in southeastern China, the Heavenâs Gate Mountain allows visitors to quite literally walk up a mountain. Once at the top of the staircase, visitors are rewarded with spectacular views on both sides of the divide thanks to a 431-foot tall natural hole in the mountain.
Chand Baori (Abhaneri, India)
Built between 800 and 900 A.D., Chand Baori is one of the oldest and most attractive landmarks in northwest India. The structure is comprised of roughly 3,500 steps that funnel 100 feet into the ground.
Staircase in Santorini, Greece
Santorini is a Greek island located in the middle of the Aegean Sea. The small island is known for some of the most breathtaking views on the planet, and for its whitewashed homes and buildings that are built along the craggy coastline. These structures, of course, include staircases that overlook the ocean, producing spectacular views.