Staircase in the Ruhr Museum, Zeche Zollverein in Essen, © Urban Pixxels

Great stairs

Ex­cur­sion des­tin­a­tions with the best as­cent op­por­tun­it­ies

Urban art or ancient splendour, winding or dead straight, athletic challenges or places to linger: NRW has some staircases that are much more than just a means to an end, i.e., a way to the top. We have compiled some steps that are far too spectacular to simply walk over. Some of them are walkable works of art, some offer magnificent views along the way, and some look and even sound so great that they have served as concert venues.

Holsteiner Treppe Wuppertal Stufen, © Tourismus NRW e.V.

Wup­per­tal, star of the steps

Ger­many's city with the largest num­ber of stairs has some spe­cial spe­ci­mens

With a total of 517 staircases in the city area, Wuppertal has a firm grasp on the title of Germany's city with the largest number of stairs. The Tippen-Tappen-Tönchen with its 103 steps, for example, connects the Ölberg to the Luisenviertel in the Elberfeld district. Galleries, small shops, and cosy restaurants invite visitors to the Ölberg district, while adjacent Luisenviertel enchants with its small side streets, stylish old buildings, cosy cafés, and pubs. The Hosteiner stairs with their colourful steps not only make for a proper eye-catcher and a popular photo spot, but also are one of the most-frequently visited places in the city. The longest continuously straight stairway is the Jakobstreppe with 155 steps, connecting Friedrich-Ebert-Straße in Elberfeld-West to the Nützenberg.

Grand staircase of Augustusburg Castle in Brühl, © Johannes Höhn

A splend­our in marble

The grand stair­case of Schloss Au­gus­tus­burg

Columns and figures made of white marble are shining next to delicate frescoes, framed by magnificent murals and painted ceilings. The grand staircase of Schloss Augustusburg will take your breath away – even if you aren’t walking up them at all. A team of artists worked for two decades to complete this magnificent piece based on plans by great baroque and rococo master builder Balthasar Neumann.

The Brühl palace concerts feature music from the Baroque and Romantic eras to match these surroundings. Every year’s run focuses on the works of composer Joseph Haydn, which can be experienced here as part of an artistic synthesis of the arts.

Staircase Museum Küppersmühle Duisburg, © @lerichti @vdurango

Stairs in the mu­seum

Pieces of art sur­roun­ded by ex­hib­its

Some steps can outperform the actual exhibits at the Ruhr Museum in the former coal washing plant of the Zeche Zollverein. The access to the building takes you past the first photo motif already, with Germany’s longest free-standing escalator carrying you inside this industrial monument. The ride up to the entrance area takes about one and a half minutes; the 24-metre height difference can also be covered on foot instead. Various exhibition levels within the museum are connected by another photogenic step construction. This staircase, designed by star architect Rem Koolhaas, is glowing in shades of yellow and orange, reminiscent of hot, liquid steel.

The staircase of the Küppersmühle Museum of Modern Art (MKM) may be simpler, but it is no less impressive. Herzog & de Meuron’s spectacular stair towers draw many architecture-enthusiasts to the brick building, which used to serve as a granary until the 1970s, every year. Today, the Küppersmühle Museum marks the end of Duisburg's inner harbour, a place to relax in restaurants and cafés, among modern and historical architecture, and with plenty of seating opportunities along the water.

Tetraeder Bottrop, © Johannes Höhn

Stairs with a view

Close to the sky

Plenty of fresh air and magnificent panoramic views reward anyone who climbs up these steps. While they lead to some beautiful vantage points, they themselves are no less worth seeing. These stairs are a work of art in their own right. One prominent example is the Tiger & Turtle stair sculpture in Duisburg: The 20-metre-tall work of art resembles a walk-on roller coaster, though visitors will have to do without a loop.

Corners replace of curves in the tetrahedron on the Beckstraße slag heap in Bottrop: This landmark, visible from afar, is accessed on foot via a serpentine path or a staircase with nearly 400 steps. The geometric work of art itself is also made up of swinging stairs and steel tubes connected by steel cables. The annual “tetrahedron stair run” poses a special challenge with the goal of conquering the tetrahedron in races on a number of difficulty levels, step by step.

The Norddeutschland slag heap in Neukirchen-Vlyun is a more leisurely site that can be climbed on one of several hiking trails or a staircase with 359 steps that ends at the top of the Hallenhaus landmark. This piece of summit art is illuminated at night, providing a photogenic jewel even after sunset. The same is true for many other slagheap-related works of art in the Ruhr region as well.

Steps lead to beautiful vistas in some other corners of North Rhine-Westphalia, too: The Himmelstreppe on the Hennedamm in Meschede, for example, affords a panoramic view of the Sauerland and the Hennesee lake. 333 steps go up the dam, connecting the lake to the Hennepark with its playgrounds for children to supplement viewing platforms and small footbridges across the river Henne.

The name of Metabolon refers to a leisure area with offerings for the entire family. The site in mountainous Lindlar used to be part of a landfill. It has not only since been turned into a place of learning and innovation for material conversion and environmental technology, but has also become a place for sport, fun, action, and pretty vistas. Anyone who makes it up the 360 steps to the viewing platform at the top of the former landfill will be rewarded by a panoramic view of the Bergisches Land region. The way back down can bypass the stairs on a double slide more than 100 metres in length in the summer season. Paragliding, cross golf, and mountain biking are some other options on the premises.

  • Staircase in the extension of the MKM Museum Küppersmühle in Duisburg, © MKM Duisburg, Herzog & de Meuron; Foto: Simon Menge
    Aerial view of the Tetrahedron on a slag heap in Bottrop, © Dominik Ketz, Tourismus NRW e.V.
  • Gangway Ruhr Museum, Zeche Zollverein in Essen,  Ruhr Tourismus, Stefan Ziese, © Ruhr Tourismus, Stefan Ziese
    Detail Tetraeder, Halde Beckstraße Bottrop, © Johannes Höhn
    Staircase in the Ruhr Museum, Zeche Zollverein in Essen, © Urban Pixxels

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