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World's Coolest Staircases

Vatican Museums’ Spiral Staircase, Rome

Pope Pius XI charged Giuseppe Momo with designing a bronze staircase at the entrance to the Vatican Museums in the late 1920s. He rose to the challenge, creating wide ramplike steps and two separate helixes of the spiral staircase so that one leads up and the other goes down—twisting together into a double-helix formation decades before Watson and Crick discovered the structure of DNA. The staircase’s finishing touches, bronze angel decorations, were the contribution of sculptor Antonio Maraini. —Lyndsey Matthews

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