Just like elevators, escalators need not to be boring modes of transporting people between floors and levels. These escalators are a step out of the ordinary (pun intended) that makes them a little more interesting (and fun) to ride.
Atomium (Brussels, Belgium)
The Atomium was originally built for the 1958 Brussels World Fair but it is now one of Belgium’s popular tourist attractions. It’s designed to resemble a magnified unit cell of an iron crystal. While nothing surpasses its unique exterior, the interiors are also worth investigating. The metal tubes connecting the spheres also serve as passageways, while the original escalators make lengthy trips (one of which, only under 115 feet long, was the longest escalator in Europe at the time). The design of the escalator looks futuristic, which only apt for such a science-inspired building.
The Caesar’s Palace (Las Vegas, Nevada, USA)
There are actually a number of spiral escalators in the world, but perhaps none of them may look as beautiful and elegant as this one at the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. The escalator was installed by Mitsubishi Electric, a division of the Mitsubishi company in Japan, in 1985.
Zollverein Coal Mine (Düsseldorf, Germany)
The Zollverein Coal Mine has the rare distinction of being the only coal mine to be awarded the UNESCO World Heritage Site status. It stands as a leading example of Europe’s heavy industry development. The comprehensive network of mining infrastructure and Bauhaus-style architecture, among other things, make this German coal mine unique.
The Zollverein Coal Mine is now defunct, except as a tourist site. A series of escalators are among the longest outdoor escalators of their kind. The escalator leading to a museum is illuminated with a burnt orange light, which is cool, figuratively. This light comes with the heat that once reflected in the shuttered mines beneath.
Umeda Sky Building (Osaka, Japan)
If you want to ride on the world’s highest escalator, you must travel to Osaka, Japan. The escalator spans the vast atrium-like space in the middle of the building, hovering out in the open. Make sure that you’re not acrophobic – the views of the city below as you ride the escalator are just spectacular.
But hold it – it’s not for free. It will cost you 1500 yen (US$14) to get in!
Natural History Museum (London, England, United Kingdom)
This escalator, which connects the Earth Hall to the upper Red Zone galleries, takes the passengers straight through the center of a metallic globe. A one-way ride, but a magical and otherworldly one for sure.
Toledo Station (Naples, Italy)
The escalator at the Toledo Station is close to what a stairway to underwater heaven might look like – an apt design since Toledo is one of the deepest train stations in Naples.
The subway station was part of the city’s effort to commission designs by architects and artists. Catalan-born architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca transformed this humdrum subway station into a beautiful art exhibition. The three illuminated escalators descend 38 meters (124 feet) below sea level. The escalator area is surrounded by a dazzling seascape of mosaics that change colors depending on the light effects. The crater above the escalators sparkles with LED lights. It also has a small opening that allows outdoor light onto the escalators, down from the town square high above.
Bicycle escalators in Trondheim, Norway
Bicycle escalators may look cutting-edge or revolutionary to many of us. But in Norway, such escalators are not uncommon, particularly in Trondheim. The city is situated on the slopes of a hill named Brubakken, which makes riding bicycles a literally steep challenge. Thus, the city installed bicycle escalators (also known as bicycle lifts) in 1993, becoming the first in the world to have such escalators. Since then, over 200,000 cyclists have used bicycle escalators to overcome the 130-meter hill without a single accident.
The world’s shortest escalator in Kawasaki, Japan
The city of Kawasaki, Japan, is home to the world’s shortest escalator. Located in Okadaya Mores shopping mall, the escalator has only five steps and a vertical rise measuring only 32.8 inches (83 centimeters). Except perhaps for eliciting some chuckles, this escalator doesn’t have much use – you might as well take the staircase beside it.
The world’s longest street escalator in Hong Kong, China
If you love long escalator rides, you will be dazzled by Hong Kong’s central and mid-level escalator, which is the longest outdoor covered escalator in the world.
Locals and tourists can get on the escalator, which will take them on a stair-lifting journey over 800 meters (2,264 feet) long. The ride takes around 20 minutes!
Escalator in the slums of Comuna 13 (Medellin, Colombia)
The sight of the modern escalators is a stark contrast to the picture of poverty in Comuna 13, a slum area in Medellin, Colombia.
The outdoor escalator was installed in one of the poorest areas of Colombia’s second-largest city. For many years, thousands of residents were forced to hike hundreds of steps, whose height is equivalent to a 28-story building!
Residents used to spend 35 minutes or so of hiking up and down the slopes. But now, travel time has been cut to mere five minutes, thanks to this fantastic piece of machinery.
The escalator (seen at the center of the above picture) measures 40 meters (131 feet) long and is divided into six sections, making it accessible for the inhabitants from different parts of the area. Recently, a roof has been added for shade.