When you picture a spiral staircase, you likely picture it inside of a lighthouse, an old castle, or the Statue of Liberty. Although spiral staircases are still a “trending” staircase of our time, the staircase has actually been around for centuries. The spiral staircase has a rich history that is worth talking about.
While you can still find spiral staircases being built into new buildings, their lineage dates back more than 3,000 years. In Biblical history, two spiral staircases are said to have been part of Solomon’s Temple, leading to a sacrificial altar. While one of the first written accounts, the temple stairs are only recorded in stories.
When it comes to actual staircase remains, the earliest example comes from a temple in Sicily that is believed to have been constructed around 480-470 B.C.E. These stairs, like many other ancient designs, were centered on a central column that was crafted out of stone with stone slabs constructed around to build stairs.
A more common design began to appear around 500 years later. Trajan’s Column in Rome – a monument to victory that was built around 113 C.E. – still stands today and is widely considered the oldest preserved spiral stair structure in the world. It features a base built of marble with stairs wrapped with reliefs depicting the victories of Trajan’s army in war.
Rise in Popularity
While spiral staircases existed for 3000 years, historian believe they didn’t become truly popular until the Middle Ages. During this time, spiral staircases were used with the walls of castles in order to reach the tops of towers. This was mainly a defense mechanism, as different armies would use the spiral staircase when enemies would attempt at an ambush because they provided a limited amount of space which prevented a group of people from running up it at one time.
As you probably know, spiral staircases are still a prominent structure in many homes, apartments, and commercial spaces. They may not be used to protect soldiers from attacking kingdoms, but they are used to save space, as well as to provide a captivating focal point as a timeless structure.