21 Spectacular Sets of Steps, Stairs, Staircases and Stairways: They all lead somewhere

Wat Kaew Temple (Wat Kaewkorawaram), Thailand

Approaching the temple

Varanasi, India

A ghat is a series of steps leading to a holy body of water or riverside. Sometimes described as a broad flight of steps leading down to the bank of a river in India, used especially by bathers.

Ghat in Varanasi, India

Chand Baori (Stepwell), Abhaneri, India

In the town of Abhaneri, one can find the deepest stepwell in India. I had not heard of a stepwell before, so was curious as to what it would look like. A stepwell was used to collect water during the monsoon period and would hopefully see the village through the hot and dry months.  Covering a large area, with rows of steps in an inverse pyramid pattern downward, it has 13 stories and 3500 steps.  

Assumption of Mary Pilgrimage Church, Bled Island, Slovenia

An optional excursion started with taking a special row-boat called a pletna out to Bled Island. The church pretty much dominates the island.

Plenta boat – One strong rower with over a dozen passengers

Leading up to the church are 99 steps.  Long a favorite place for couples to marry, the groom traditionally carries the bride up the steps, while she must remain silent.  If that can occur, the odds are in favor of a successful marriage.

Stairs leading up to the church

Holy Way Staircase, Bom Jesus, Braga, Portugal

Most of us chose to take the funicular to the top of the 1,300 foot high hill of Bom Jesus, to overlook the city of Braga and the famous Holy Way staircase. Tim and another couple walked (or in Tim’s case, ran) up the approximately 600 step stairway to meet us at the top.

At the top is a church that sits on the foundation of prior churches, dating as far back as the late 12th century. In 1629 a pilgrimage church, Bom Jesus do Monte, (which means Good Jesus of the Mount) was built and dedicated to the Bom Jesus (Good Jesus), with six chapels dedicated to the Passion of Christ. It is one of the most popular places of pilgrimage in the north of Portugal. We all walked back down together.

Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Sri Lanka

Sitting atop a massive rock, formed by an extinct volcano that soars above the surrounding jungle, are the ruins of an ancient royal palace. Often billed as the 8th Wonder of the World, this palace complex is the most visited site in Sri Lanka.

One must tackle a combination of 1233 uneven rock steps and metal stairways, (much of which does not have any railing), if you want to make it up to the royal ruins and see the views.

Well I did make it to the top and the view was quite amazing. The sense of accomplishment was however the highlight for me.

The last little bit of the LONG, STEEP steps to the top

The Student Jail (Studentenkarzer), Heidelberg, Germany

Dating back to the 1600’s, many of the schools, both college and academic schools had karzers, (jails) where students could be detained for usually minor offenses such as drinking, being disrespectful to authorities or staging a duel.

Little more than rooms with a bed and desk, students were lodged for a few days to a few weeks, but were allowed to attend classes. What was originally deemed as a punishment, over the years became a rite of passage for many students. Visitors were allowed and eventually the “jails” evolved into a party house. Marking the walls with graffiti became a ritual.

Stairway entrance to student jail, Heidelberg, Germany


A monastery temple Wat Kampong Thom, also known as Wat Indrisamavora, located in Kdei village in the Stung Sen district.

Wat Kampong Thom ~ Stairway up to monks living quarters with robes drying in the sunshine

Edinburgh, Scotland

In 2014, we rented an Airbnb apartment, just a 10 minute walk from the Royal Mile and overlooking a large park. This was a primary resident belonging to a young couple who would rent it out whenever they went on holiday.

We had been forewarned, but until we arrived, I had conveniently put it out of my mind – there was NO elevator and their unit was located on the third floor.  Mind you, in Europe the floors are numbered differently than we do in the states.  Here, in Scotland, you have a ground floor, then a first floor, etc.  So by our way of thinking, the apartment was on the fourth floor!

Stairway to heaven – (well partway there anyway)

Havana, Cuba

Housed in what was the former Presidential Palace up until 1959, the Museum of the Revolution is located in Old Havana. The museum details the time frame when Cuba’s president Fulgencio Batista was in office, through the Cuban Revolution when Castro took control, the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis. The building, when in its prime was lavishly decorated, in part by Tiffany’s of New York. What makes this stairway particularly unique is that the stairway still shows the original bullet holes from a failed attempt to assassinate President Batista.

Note the bullet holes in the walls above and to the right of the bust

Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

A UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Located at the northern most point on the island of Ireland, it was voted the fourth greatest natural wonder in the United Kingdom.  It is the number one site for Northern Ireland.

There are legends and folklore that the Irish tell with great gusto as to how the step like formations were created by giants. 

Even children climb the natural rock steps

Les Andelys, France

Stone steps

Lyon, France

One of the most interesting aspects of Lyon were the narrow passageways, or traboules. Most of these are private property, requiring a key to access, but a few were open and available for us to view.

After walking partway through the passageway, you might find yourself in a charming 16th century courtyard. Well worn steps that show their age, a well in a corner, large wooden doors, hanging baskets of flowers or creeping vines, and curved architecture all added to the ambiance.

Well worn steps

Essaouira, Morocco

In this artist village, you can expect to find freedom of expression everywhere, whether through painting or graffiti.

This made me want to climb the steps to see what was up there…

Castelo de Vide, Portugal

Touted as the best preserved medieval town in Portugal, we took a stroll through the old Jewish Quarter where time seems to have stood still with cobbled streets and whitewashed houses (most of them with Gothic doorways and potted plants on the doorsteps). Here is also the oldest synagogue in the country, although all that remains is one modest little room.

Guayaquil, Ecuador

Our city tour ended in Old Town. The highlight of this area would be the light house on top of the hill. There are no roads for this section of town, so the only way to get there is to climb the 444 steps, one at a time.

Bisbee, Arizona, USA

“The Bisbee 1000 Stair Climb is a five-kilometer run through the city that traverses 1,034 stairs. Billed as “the most unique physical fitness challenge in the USA!” by the organizers, the Climb includes runners being serenaded by musicians at various locations among the stairs. The event has grown to include the Ice Man Competition, designed to honor the history of men delivering blocks of ice by hand before the advent of refrigeration. In the Ice Man Competition, entrants race up 155 steps carrying a ten-pound block of ice with antique ice tongs.” ~ Wikipedia

1000 Steps

Regal Princess, New England Cruise

Each ship we have cruised on is somewhat unique. One thing most have in common however is a grand staircase. This is just one example. Some are more grand, others less so.

Grand staircase

Selaron Steps, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón was the master-mind behind the steps, claiming them to be “my tribute to the Brazilian people”. As a painter and sculptor, he traveled the world before eventually settling in Rio.

The “steps project” originally began simply in 1990 as a means to repair and beautify the area in front of his home. Using tile fragments in blue, green and yellow tiles – the colors of the Brazilian flag, many of which were scavenged from construction sites and waste found on the streets.

Name written in hand painted tiles

“It started out as a side-project to his main passion, painting, but soon became an obsession. He found he was constantly out of money, so Selarón sold paintings to fund his work. It was long and exhausting work but he continued on and eventually covered the entire set of steps in tiles, ceramics and mirrors.” ~ Wikipedia

In later years, most of the tiles were donated by visitors from all around the world.

  • Officially known as Manuel Carneiro street
  • The steps connect the neighborhoods of Santa Teresa and Lapa
  • There are 215 steps
  • They are covered in over 2000 tiles
  • 300 tiles were of a pregnant African woman hand-painted by Selarón
  • Tiles were collected/donated from over 60 countries around the world.
  • On January 10, 2013, Selarón was found dead with burn marks on his body on the famous Lapa steps.
  • Today the mystery remains unsolved if it was murder or suicide

There are two more sets of steps that we have been to that are pretty well known, but I don’t have access to my pictures. Sorry, had to borrow these:

Spanish Steps, Rome, Italy

Spanish Steps ~ courtesy of istockphoto.com

Santorini, Greece

You can choose to walk down the 588 stairs from Fira to the old port on foot or on a donkey. We choose to walk it and seeing our cruise ship anchored in the caldera was quite spectacular.

Santorini Steps ~ photographer unknown

Gratitude Moment: Today I am grateful that we have climbed most of these stairways. We have seen some amazing views as a result of our efforts.

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our latest adventure. We hope you will join us!
This entry was posted in Africa, Arizona, Asia, Brazil, Cambodia, Cuba, Ecuador, Europe, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Morocco, Northern Ireland, Portugal, Scotland, Slovenia, South America, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United States and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to 21 Spectacular Sets of Steps, Stairs, Staircases and Stairways: They all lead somewhere

  1. I’m having trouble with about half of the like buttons I want to use. Please pretend you got a “like” from me – I especially appreciated the stairs spiraling up in Scotland.


  2. Jane Fritz says:

    Amazing pics. Thanks for sharing.


  3. Pastor Cathy says:

    21 Spectacular Sets of Steps, Stairs, Staircases and Stairways: They all lead somewhere


  4. Shoes says:

    Fantastic pictures! That last one is dizzying.


  5. Barb Yurick says:

    Hi Tim and Joanne, I met you on the Croatia trip and I see that I’m in your 1st picture here. (the redhead). Also, I took the Donkey ride up that windy road and it very scary.


    • Hi Barb, lovely to hear from you! I hope you are doing well and getting ready to travel again before long. Our bus from the cruise excursion drove us around the island a bit first and then deposited us at the top. We only had to walk down, which was not too bad.


  6. joliesattic says:

    Wow! I don’t think I could handle that many steps, but it looks amazing. I hope to see some of those places one day. Bisbee, AZ is the only place I’ve been that you covered.


  7. joliesattic says:

    I should have said, the steps of Greece, the others are doable.

    Liked by 1 person

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