Hidden within the beautiful Pio-Clementino Museum in Vatican City lies the popular Bramante’s Staircase.

However, although many simply think of it as one staircase, it is, in fact, two sperate staircases with the same name. Known as the original Bramante’s Staircase, and the modern Bramante’s Staircase.

The Original Bramante Staircase

Commissioned by Pope Julius II in the early 16th century, the original staircase was designed by the famous architect of Tuscany, Donato Bramante, hence the name. This staircase was built in a square tower, created to link the Belvedere Palace to the streets of Rome, allowing Pope Julius II to travel from his private residence by carriage. The reason this was even possible was since the Original Bramante Staircase didn’t even have stairs, but was, in fact, a paved ramp. One of the true fascinations with the original staircase is the fascinating architectural structure, displaying a perfect double helix shape. This shape is commonly associated with DNA today, but as DNA was not discovered until well after the staircase was built, this staircase shape was very unusual. The real reason for this design was for in fact for convenience, as it allowed carriages to travel upon one path and down on the other at the same time to stop any interruptions. Nowadays, the original staircase is an exclusive destination, with only a few people allowed to see it in person.

The Modern Bramante Staircase

The modern Bramante’s Staircase, is, however, entirely open to the public. It is located in the Pio-Clementino Museum, marking the exit of the museum. The staircase itself is stunning, with many visitors looking directly down when standing at the very top to see the spiral design from a bird’s eye view. The streams of people descending the staircase only enhance its beauty, with the rich brown and gold creating a memorable piece. This staircase was designed by Giuseppe Momo in 1932, who used similar features to the original, including the double helix shape. However, it is not a ramp-like the original, with long stairs built-in for its visitors.

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