6. Pyramid of the Magician, Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico
Enormous stairs ascend this 115-foot-tall step pyramid in the Mayan ruins of Uxmal, a World Heritage Site dating from 700 A.D. "Uxmal" means, mysteriously, "built three times" in native Mayan, and that same sense of mystery shrouds this unusual rounded pyramid.
7. Livraria Lello, Porto, Portugal
Straight out of Hogwarts, the labyrinthine, red-carpeted staircase in this 1906 bookstore was designed in a lavish neo-Gothic style by architect Francisco Xavier Esteves. It's surrounded by equally ornate stained-glass windows and wooden banisters and shelves.
8. 16th Avenue Mosaic Staircase, San Francisco
How do you turn 163 city steps into something magical? Artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher did it with bits of ceramic and the help of community volunteers. The images in this remarkable mosaic morph from those of the ocean depths on up to those of the sun.
9. Winchester Mystery House Stairs, San Jose, Calif.
For nearly four decades, widowed heiress Sarah Winchester oversaw the construction of this 24,000-square-foot, 160-room mansion. It's filled with secret passages, false doors and staircases to nowhere — elements that some say hint at Winchester's fascination with the supernatural.
10. State Law Library Staircases, Des Moines, Iowa
If, as Roman philosopher Cicero once mused, "A room without books is like a body without a soul," then this library, home to 100,000 volumes, has enough soul for us all. Twin spirals corkscrew up into the soaring space, creating a visual feast alongside the intellectual one.
Also of Interest
- 5 astonishing Frank Lloyd Wright buildings
- Charming cities for retirement
- Share your wisdom and experience — help a child learn to read
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