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Atlas Obscura Tulip Stairs

In 1635, the acclaimed English architect Inigo Jones completed work on Queen’s House in Greenwich. It was the first building in England designed in the pure classical style, with Jones boldly bringing the classical architecture of Rome and the Italian Renaissance to England. Inside the building was another first: the Tulip Stairs, an elegant staircase unlike anything previously built in Britain.

Technically speaking, the Tulip Stairs were the first self-supporting spiral stairs in Britain. The absence of a central support structure allows for an unobstructed view up through the center of the staircase. The design of the Tulip Stairs was inspired by a Venetian model. Cantilevers in the walls support the stairs, with each tread resting on the one below.

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