If you’ve ever been to the Vatican Museums, you are probably familiar with the wonderful, spiral staircase leading you out of the museums, pictured above. Built by Giuseppe Momo in the 1930’s, it (surprisingly) became one of the most photographed “masterpieces” in all the museums! It’s more a ramp than a staircase, curving gracefully in a double helix, lit from above, and with an intricate metal balustrade.
This staircase echoes another — much older — curving ramp in the museums, one that is not open to the public except on special tours: the beautiful Bramante staircase, designed by the architect Donato Bramante in 1505.
The Bramante staircase is located in the Pio-Clementine Museum. Intentionally designed as a gently graded ramp, it allowed men or pack animals to go up and down easily, as well as permitting Pope Julius II to go up the ramp in his carriage to his private apartments.
If you enjoy architecture, it’s well worth the special tour price to see it. But it’s not the only other interesting staircase to be seen. A more modern staircase in the Vatican Museums is an oval, but echoes the other two.
They are certainly all worth every step!