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When travelling, visiting a staircase may not feature at the top of your bucket list. But staircases offer a multitude of soaring vantage points and incredible glimpses into the past, not to mention that some are amongst the planet’s most celebrated architectural marvels. Far more than just taking you from A to B.
As leaders in creating stunning, bespoke staircases for your home, it is no surprise that we see the beauty in the impressive staircases the world has to offer. Within this study, we have conducted research to share our love for staircases with you.
Using a variety of metrics, such as volume of Instagram hashtags, annual Google searches, number of steps and number of visitors per year, we have ranked the most scenic and iconic staircases from across the world.
Our research not only revealed the top 10 most scenic staircases globally, but the best historical staircases, capital city-based staircases, and UK based staircases, too.
So, let’s step in.
The stairs to Machu Picchu, the ancient Incan city, rank top overall. This historical staircase racks up more than two million hashtags on Instagram, with an annual Google search volume of 718,500 and more than one million visitors every year.
Coming in second, with 1.7 million Instagram hashtags and an expected 700,000 visitors in 2022 alone, is Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The Hindu structure is surrounded by a 3-kilometre moat and lush scenery, and even features on the country’s flag.
In third place is the modern Tokyo Tower in Tokyo, Japan. This structure is based on the Eiffel Tower and comprises of 600 steps to reach its observation deck, allowing visitors to enjoy the views of Tokyo’s metropolis. With over 1.1 million Instagram hashtags and 10,000 visitors a day, it earns itself third place in our top staircases in the world.
Our research also explored the world’s top historic staircases – those built by pre-industrialised civilisations – with Machu Picchu in Peru and Angkor Wat in Cambodia coming out top in the ranking.
Machu Picchu translates to ‘Old Peak’ in the ancient Quechua language, referring to its location within the mountains. Built in the 1400s, it served as a symbol of the Incan Empire and was originally the site of an ancient Incan city. The site features the Temple of the Sun and the Intihuatana stone, which acted as a solar clock. The beautiful architecture and views attract over a million visitors per year and its trail contains 1,600 steps. It was named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.
Angkor Wat dates back even earlier. Built between 1110-1150, it is known as the largest religious monument in the world. The five central towers of Angkor Wat symbolise the peaks of Mount Meru, which according to Hindu mythology is the dwelling place of the gods. The 377-step staircase is said to remind climbers that heaven is difficult to reach.
In third and fourth spots are the Chichen Itza in Mexico and the Batu Caves in Malaysia. Chichen Itza counts just over one million Instagram hashtags, with an annual search volume of 331,000 and more than two million tourist visits every year. The Batu Caves have 961,778 hashtags on Instagram and a search volume of 24,700, with 5,000 tourists visiting every day.
Chichen Itza is the oldest staircase in our research, constructed in the early 400s, and has 365 stone steps. It was a major commercial centre and had sprawling residential complexes, with researchers even suggesting that the city had suburbs.
The Batu Caves get their name from the Malay word batu, meaning ‘rock’. Inside are three main caverns, the most popular of which is known as the Temple Cave, which has a 300-foot-high ceiling and features Hindu shrines. To reach the entrance, visitors must climb the 272-step concrete staircase, with a colossal 140-foot golden statue of Murugan stands at the base of the steps.
In fifth and sixth place are Sigiriya (Lion Rock) in Sri Lanka and the San Juan de Gaztelugatxe in Spain. The former counts 378,856 Instagram hashtags and a Google search volume of 67,100. The latter, meanwhile, ranks with 82,686 hashtags on Instagram and an annual search volume of 8,740.
Originally built as a fortress, Sigiriya was constructed in 477 and was later used as a monastery until it was abandoned in the 14th century. Climbing the 1,200 steps leads tourists to a panoramic view of the lush surroundings which attracts a million visitors per year.
The San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is a ninth century structure sitting on the island of Gaztelugatxe, and features a zig-zagged staircase with 241 steps. The island was also used to film Game of Thrones Season 7. The subsequent increase in footfall, to around 2,500 visitors a day, has left the rocks more vulnerable to erosion and leading to concern amongst Spanish authorities.
Our research also explored the best staircases in capital cities around the world. In first and second place are the Tokyo Tower in Tokyo, Japan and the Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy. The staircase within the Tokyo Tower boasts a huge 1,130,367 Instagram hashtags, search volume of 135,000 and 10,000 daily visitors, making it one of our highest-ranking staircases overall. The Spanish Steps have 268,696 Instagram hashtags and a search volume of 94,100.
With 600 steps leading to an observation deck, Tokyo Tower provides tourists with a magnificent view of Japan’s capital. Based on the Eiffel Tower and at 333 metres tall, the structure was completed in 1958, briefly becoming the tallest freestanding tower in the world.
In third place is Lisbon’s Initiation Well, situated in the hills near Portugal’s capital, followed by the Church of our Saviour in fourth, situated in Copenhagen, Denmark. The mysterious Initiation Well has 10,636 hashtags on Instagram and a search volume of 2,740. Meanwhile, the Church of our Saviour has a total of 7,050 hashtags a search volume of 22,200 and annual visitors of 80,000.
Linked to an important era of Portugal’s history, the Initiation Well spirals deep into the earth via 135 steps, which were used for initiation rituals within the Knights Templar. The date of the well’s construction remains mysterious, with speculation that it could date back to the ninth century.
In Copenhagen, the Church of our Saviour was constructed in instalments between 1682 and 1752, with its iconic spire the final piece to be added. Situated in the surroundings of Christianshavn, the island between Copenhagen and Amager, it provides tourists with the opportunity to climb the 400 steps to the top to enjoy panoramic views of the area.
In fifth and sixth place come the Stairs of rue Foyatier in Paris, France and the iconic steps featured in The Exorcist in Washington D.C., USA. The former count 1,403 Instagram hashtags and a search volume of 780. In sixth, the haunting stairs featured in The Exorcist have 1,336 hashtags and a search volume of 2,000.
Named after a French sculptor, the Stairs of rue Foyatier were opened in 1867 and count 222 steps leading to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, a Roman Catholic Church and key Parisian landmark. There is also a funicular railway alongside the staircase for accessibility.
The 75-step Exorcist staircase was originally built in 1895 to serve as a lightwell and is now recognised as a historical landmark. According to local Washington D.C. folklore, every time a person attempts to count the number of eerie steps, they will end up with a different answer.
Finally, our data ranked the best staircases in the UK. In first place come the Durdle Door Steps in Dorset and in second, the Great Fire Monument in London.
The Durdle Door Steps boast 278,776 Instagram hashtags along with an annual search volume of 2,840. And the Great Fire Monument has a total of 20,799 hashtags and a search volume of 2,270.
The Durdle Door is a beautiful, natural rock formation in Dorset, and its 88 steps were built to provide a path directly to the attraction. In 2012, the original steps began to crumble away due to harsh weather and fully collapsed in 2013 before being reconstructed two years later. This area brings over 200,000 visitors every year.
The Great Fire Monument in London was built between 1671 and 1677, originally as a reminder of the Great Fire of 1666 – one of the most significant and devastating events of the capital’s history. Today, the monument is the oldest ticketed attraction in London and welcomes around 230,000 visitors a year to climb the 311-step spiral staircase. At the top of the staircase is a panoramic view of the city.
Third place in our ranking are the Whitby steps, with 2,102 Instagram hashtags and a search volume of 9,640. In fourth comes the beautiful Tulip Staircase, with has 1,383 Instagram hashtags and a search volume of 4,850.
Constructed in the 1340s, Whitby Steps are the oldest set of UK stairs in the list. They were originally built as a test of Christian faith, with the most dedicated climbing the 199 steps to St Mary’s Church at the summit. The steps provide a great view of the harbour and town of Whitby and attract over 100,000 visitors a year.
The Tulip Staircase is a feature of the Queen’s House, the UK’s first building created in the classical style. It counts 94 steps that spiral through the building, which is part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site and counts more than two million tourists a year.
In fifth and sixth place in the UK staircase ranking are Nelson Stairs and Nancy’s Steps, both situated in London. The Nelson Stairs have 787 Instagram hashtags and a search volume of 2,020. Nancy’s Steps, on the other hand, count a smaller volume of 20 hashtags and a search volume of 2,730.
The Nelson Stairs are within Somerset House, a five-story historical landmark which was originally built in the 18th Century. The current staircase is a replica built in the 1950s after the Second World War destroyed the original set. The Somerset House and the Nelson Stairs bring in three million tourists each year.
Finally, in sixth place, Nancy’s Steps are surviving fragments of the 1831 London Bridge designed by John Rennie and built by his son. The steps were the scene of the murder of Nancy in Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist, hence the name, and are situated next to the London Bridge and HMS Belfast, right in the middle of the city.
Our research clearly shows the beauty and interest that staircases hold, something which inspires us in creating our bespoke staircases. Whether timber staircases, glass staircases or steel staircases, our handcrafted staircases will transform your space, providing an elegant centrepiece to your home.
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Our new staircase looks fantastic. We’ve had lots of compliments and it has transformed our hallway. The whole experience was great from beginning to end, from discussing our requirements to the finished article.
Mr & Mrs Begbie, Hampshire
From the initial meeting with the senior designer to discuss our needs, to the surveyor and then the installer, we were extremely delighted with the end result. The installation process went without any problems. All the staff were very professional and we would recommend Neville Johnson without hesitation.
Rosalind Tunnicliffe, Solihull
From the moment the brochure was delivered, I was optimistic that we were buying quality. I wasn’t disappointed. All contact made was courteous, polite and clear, with phone calls confirmed by email. In short, we’re really thrilled with our library and it was effortless from start to finish.
Alison Cole, Swinton
A real easy process, I would really recommend Neville Johnson to anyone. From the first phone call through to a very skilled fitter (who had to go above and beyond with our old house not having one straight line in it) it was all so easy. We couldn’t be happier that we chose to use Neville Johnson.
Richard Smith, Surrey
From the outset of our contract with Neville Johnson, we were supported with design choices, given expert advice and all deadlines were met. Everyone was courteous, knowledgeable and friendly. The craftsmanship is superb; our staircase is now an outstanding feature of our open plan lounge.
Judith Scorer, Stockport
I cannot recommend this company enough. From first contact we received very high quality service. We were informed as to everything that was going on, which was backed up by the necessary paperwork, plans and phone calls. The fitter was competent and the work he did we can’t fault.
Mrs K Holroyd, Wrexham
From our initial enquiry to the completion of our staircase, we have found all the members of the team at Neville Johnson to be very helpful, courteous and professional in all our dealings. The staircase has transformed our living space. We have been very impressed with this company from start to finish and would not hesitate to recommend them.
Pauline Treston, Northumberland
From the initial contact with the company to the completion and installation everything was utterly professional; we have no hesitation in recommending the company to anybody. We are so pleased, that Neville Johnson is returning to install a new staircase!
Mr and Mrs Thorpe, Radcliffe
The room is transformed and has been hugely admired by family and friends. I was pleasantly surprised by the attentive and courteous client care – everything went according to plan and nothing seemed too much trouble. They were in regular contact before and after the installation. I would highly recommend Neville Johnson to anyone wanting to transform a room.
Cherry Murdoch, London
From contacting the company to the point where the cupboards were fitted I was impressed by the whole process. The initial salesperson that visited was knowledgeable and helpful. I would certainly use Neville Johnson again and highly recommend this company.
Mrs S. D, Lincolnshire