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3 of the most spectacular spiral staircases in italy

Published On

September 8, 2022

May 14, 2024

Art & Culture
minute read

Did you know that Spiral staircases have been around for over 2000 years? The oldest spiral staircase was recorded in 480BC. In Temple A in Selinunte.

Temple A - in Selinunte

Unfortunately, the spiral staircase on Temple A in Selinunte no longer exists. Even though this type of staircase was built in ancient times it really became a popular architectural plan from the middle ages to the Renaissance.

There is a certain emotion that evokes when looking at the beauty of such a construction.

1. The Helicoidal Staircase of Borromini - Barberini Palace

Today 'Palazzo Barberini'  is the National Gallery of Ancient Art. The Museum holds some of Europe's great masterpieces. That includes woman artist from the Renaissance such as Artemisia Gentileschi along with portraits of women including Beatrice Cenci by Guido Reni

You can actually visit the Staircase at no cost! arrive at the main entrance and peer inside the door on your right - to witness this masterpiece! also known as the 'Chiocciola' the snail.

The Land where Palazzo Barberini is located was purchased by Milanese Nobiles 'The Sforza' in the 1400s, The Sforza even planted vineyards that arrived as far as piazza Barberini.

In 1623 when Maffeo Barberini was elected Pope and became 'Pope Urban VIII' He purchased the land and built a grand palace. Work began in 1625 with the most influential architects of the time Bernini, Borromini & Pietro da Cortona.

⁠Bernini's Square Staircase

The Helicoidal Staircase is located on the Southern wing. The Staircase leads to Cardinal  Francesco Barberini's room.  Borromini designed the staircase in 1633. This was three years after Bernini's square staircase was designed in the same palace in 1630.  Bernini and Borromini were known to be Rivals!

Check out our Private Tour of Palazzo Barberini and The Borghese Gallery

2. Momo Spiral Staircase - Vatican City

Rated in the Top 5 of the most famous staircases in the world is the 'Momo' a modern evolution of Bramante's spiral stairs.

Designed by Giuseppe Momo sculpted by Antonio Mariani and constructed at the Ferdinando Marinelli Artistic Foundry in 1932. The Staircase is located at the Pio Clemente Museum.

Check out a sample family itinerary to Rome & Florence with a private tour of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St Peters Basilica

Even though it is referred to as the 'Bramante Staircase'.  Donato di Pascuccio d'Antonio also known as Bramante Lazzari's Staircase is located in the Belvedere Palace and is closed to the public. Bramante's staircase was built in 1505 or Pope Julius II. The Pope was bought in his carriage up the several flights to arrive at his private residence.

As Giorgio Vasari explains in The life of Michelangelo. Bramante was a true rival of Michelangelo.  was an Italian Architect and Painter. Bramante introduced the High Renaissance style to Rome.

Just like Michelangelo, Bramante worked for important and powerful Religious Personalities. That included Cardinal Oliviero Carafa. For whom he built The Chiostro del Bramante in 1500. A must-see on your next trip to Rome!

Another must-see is 'The Tempietto'  a commemorative tomb located in the courtyard of San Pietro in Montorio built in 1502 for Pope Julius II.

3. Scala Contarini del Bovolo

The external multi-arch spiral staircase is known as the Scala Contarini. The staircase is 28 meters high with 80 steps. The palazzo enjoys views over the City Centre of Venice.

'Bovolo' in Venetian dialect means 'snail'. In 1489 the palazzo owner Pietro Contarini commissioned Giovanni Gandi to add the 28-meter high cylindrical tower. The spiral staircase curls up six floors of the Loggia and includes 80 steps.

Today the Palace is open to the public. You can climb the staircase by purchasing the  tickets directly online  or enjoy our exclusive walking tour - Aperitif in a Venetian Palace

Linda Sorgiovanni
Italy Customized

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