The Strategic Reason Why Spiral Staircases Always Go Clockwise When You’re Going Up

Have you ever noticed that spiral staircases go clockwise when going up and anti-clockwise when going down? Why does it always have to be that way? I mean, why not have them the other way round?

Well, as it turns out, it’s not just a design thing – there’s a pretty good reason for it.

To understand the logic we have to go back to the Medieval times, when spiral staircases were designed for castles and fortresses. One major concern during those times were of course, the attacking enemies and these staircases were a brilliant way for inhabitants to protect themselves. Spiral staircases were intentionally made narrow and in a clockwise direction so the attacking forces would be at a disadvantage. Here’s why. (the article continues after the ad)

Because most people are right-handed that meant that the attackers (those going up) had their swords against the curved, interior wall with minimum space to swing their swords. The defenders had their swords on the opposite side which gave them a great advantage as they had significantly more space to move their swords. Simple yet brilliant.

But the staircases had another ingenious and very important protection feature – they had uneven steps. This meant that some steps were taller than the others. Because people living in the case were familiar with the uneven pattern, they could more easily move up and down the stairs while those attacking, could fall, especially when the staircase was dimly lit.

If you like what you read, then you will definitely love this one: The Reason Why Clocks Run… Clockwise  

Photo: Creative Commons
Photoshop: I’m A Useless Info Junkie
Sources: The Secrets of Medieval Castles: Stairs are built in a clockwise fashion for a VERY good reason | Why Do Spiral Staircases Go Anti-Clockwise?

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