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Weird and wonderful facts about staircases

Whilst not your usual source of comedic interest, there are actually plenty of facts about staircases that may surprise you. Stick around as we share some of our favourites.

1. In castles, spiral staircases always travel clockwise

Unlike most traditional stairs, the masonry stairs found in castle towers always ascend clockwise. Back when they were constructed, they were set this way to improve the defense of the building – the attacking swordsmen would be at a disadvantage (at least if they were right-handed) as they would have to advance with their left side to the front.

Some would even build each individual step in a different width. People who knew the castle would be aware of this and able to navigate accordingly, whereas any enemies could slip after misjudging their step.

2. The longest staircase in the world is in Switzerland

You’ll be tired just looking at it, let alone climbing the staggering 11,674 steps it takes to get to the top! Closed for all but one day of the year, the staircase at Niesen Funicular opens for an annual race where people have the chance to scale the 1,669km altitude. Thankfully, the train which runs alongside is always there to hitch a ride.

3. An elephant has climbed the Eiffel Tower

Yes, you heard that right! Following the decline in popularity of circus shows during World War II, Cirque d’Hiver Bouglione staged a stunt in which they escorted their elephant up to the first floor of the tower in a bid to increase numbers.

4. The Shard is home to 306 flights of stairs

Award-winning architect Renzo Piano designed The Shard to be a ‘vertical city’, comprising of 11,000 glass panels, 54,000 m³ of concrete, 44 lifts and 306 flights of stairs. 95% of the construction materials are also recycled.

5. Stairs have been the subject of many Guinness World Records

Stairs have been the focus of many a Guinness World Record over the decades, including:

  • Most stairs climbed on a unicycle

  • Most stairs descended by a slinky

  • Most consecutive stairs climbed on a head

  • Greatest vertical height stair climb in 12 hours (and 24 hours!)

  • Fastest time to climb 20 stairs by a dog on hind legs

6. There’s a staircase that has an age limit

Believe it or not, the spiral staircase of the Taihang Mountains in Linzhou, China, requires you to sign a disclaimer before you climb it. You have to be under 60 with no known heart conditions. It’s not hard to see why!

The structure is so tall that gusts of wind can move it, but make it to the top and you’ll experience the breathtaking views the mountain range has to offer.

If our brief insight into the weird and wonderful world of staircases has given you a little inspiration to create a bespoke design of your own, get in touch with our team on 01962 712299 or email


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