The popularity of long and winding spiral staircases goes back more than a thousand years — although their origins seem to be from nearly a thousand years before that.
One of the earliest surviving examples of a spiral staircase is inside Trajan’s Column in Rome, which was completed in AD 113. But it was really in the years from 1066 (the time of the Norman conquest of England) to around 1500 that the circular stairwells were commonplace — often found in medieval stone castles.
Below are 16 examples of more modern spiral staircases — from around the 1600s to the modern day.
Spiral staircase at Melk Abbey (Stift Melk) Benedictine abbey in Austria (1700s)
Photo thanks to Martin Haesemeyer
Queen’s House at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England
Photo thanks to George Redgrave
Vatican Museums – Musea Vaticani – Muzea Watykańskie
Spiral stairs of the Vatican Museums, in Vatican City, Italy. It was originally designed by Giuseppe Momo in 1932.
Photo thanks to Maciek Lulko
Point Hicks Lighthouse – Gippsland, Victoria, Australia
Photo thanks to Alan
Phare d’Eckmühl – Point Penmarc’h Light – Saint-Pierre Light in France (lighthouse – 1890s)
Photo thanks to Martin Burns
Spiral staircase in the Monument to the Great Fire of London – England (1670s)
Photo thanks to Tom Page
St Stephen’s Basilica – Basílica de San Esteban in Budapest (c1905)
Photo thanks to Danail Nachev
The Oriel Staircase at the Rookery Building – Chicago
Spiral staircase up the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France (building dates to 1836)
Photo thanks to Chris Waits
The Heal’s Building, Tottenham Court Road, London
Photo thanks to Craig Morey
The Magic Circle staircase, London
Photo thanks to Chris Mear
Mechanics’ Institute Library, San Francisco
Photo thanks to Thomas Hawk
Old State House Boston Spiral Staircase
The spiral staircase in the historic Old State House in Boston.
Spiral at the BC Cancer Research Building
Photo thanks to Benjamin Random
Skyscraper staircase in Ljubljana, Slovenia
Photo thanks to Gert Swillens
London – Piccadilly Circus spiral staircase
Photo thanks to Andrew
Beckford’s Tower in Bath, England (c1827)
Photo thanks to Nicola Jones