An elevator helps us get from point A to point B. It makes it easy to transport heavy objects from one floor to the next and helps people with limited mobility navigate spaces without using stairs. Although elevators are functional, there’s much more to them than practicality. Elevator architecture can be among the most breathtaking in the world.
Learn more about some of the most unique elevators across the globe. These destinations may even earn a spot on your travel bucket list!
11 Most Interesting Elevators in the World
From an aquarium-encased tube to an elevator that takes you into the sky, fascinating elevators worldwide are functional works of art.
1. Hammetschwand Elevator
How do you get to the top of a mountain? You can climb, or perhaps you can take a ski lift. Or, if you’re in Ennetbürgen, Switzerland, and want to get to the top of Bürgenstock to look over Lake Lucerne, you can take the Hammetschwand Elevator.
Built in 1905, the elevator is the tallest in Europe. If you’re apprehensive about the idea of riding in an elevator that’s well over a century old, there’s no need for concern. The Hammetschwand has been updated since its debut. Today, its cab consists of sleek glass and metal instead of wood. The elevator’s speed has also increased over the years. Today’s model will take you to the top, a distance of 500 feet, in less than one minute.
2. Luxor Hotel Inclined Elevator
The Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas is shaped like a pyramid, so its elevators aren’t standard up-and-down models. Instead, the elevators travel from floor to floor of the hotel on a diagonal. They’re positioned at a 39-degree angle. While riding the elevator, hotel guests and visitors get to look out over the hotel’s atrium.
3. AquaDom Elevator
Many aquariums have elevators to take guests from floor to floor. But few aquariums are quite like the AquaDom in Berlin. The AquaDom is essentially a giant fish tank. It’s 12 meters across and 25 meters high. It holds around 1 million liters of water and nearly 2,600 fish. At the center of the AquaDom is a glass elevator. When you ride the elevator, you get an up-close and personal look at the fish that call the aquarium home.
4. Lacerda Elevator
The Lacerda Elevator was the first elevator ever built in Brazil, in Salvador, Bahia. It’s a public elevator that connects the upper part of Salvador to the lower part. Built in 1873, the elevator is 240 feet high and in continuous operation. Three-quarters of a million people take the Lacerda lift monthly. Some ride it for fun, while others use it as part of their daily commute.
Lacerda blends form and function. It’s a necessary feature to help people travel through the city of Salvador. But it also looks stylish. The elevator was built in the Art Deco style and retained much of its original detail work.
5. Mercedes Benz Museum Elevator
A visit to the Mercedes Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, is a must for anyone who loves cars. It’s also a must-visit for fans of elevator architecture, thanks to its pod-shaped, futuristic elevators.
The pod-shaped elevators attach to the interior walls of the museum, transporting visitors from floor to floor. Inside each pod, the floor of the elevator is illuminated, creating a fun ambiance. There’s also a viewing window in each pod that lets visitors watch as they travel up or down the museum.
6. Bailong Elevator
While the Hammetschwand is the tallest elevator outdoors in Europe, the Bailong Elevator, located in China’s Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, holds the record for being the tallest outdoor elevator in the world. The Bailong Elevator is 1,070 feet tall.
It is built into the side of a cliff and first opened to visitors in 2002. As people travel in the elevator, they can enjoy views of the forest park’s monolith formations. A trip to the top takes just one and a half minutes.
7. Gateway Arch Tram
Visitors to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis have one way to get to the top — a glass tram or elevator. Although the tram gets you to the top of the arch, it’s not an elevator like you might be used to. Instead, it consists of eight cars that hold five people each. The structure of the tram is similar to that of a Ferris wheel. Even though you’re traveling up an arched incline, you stay level during the entire trip.
8. Sky Tower Elevator
You could take the stairs to the top of the Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand, but the trip involves 1,267 steps and would take nearly 30 minutes. A quicker, more scenic option is to take the elevator from the base to the observation deck on top of the tower. The elevator can take 225 people up to the top every 15 minutes. A trip in it takes just 40 seconds.
9. Oregon City Municipal Elevator
Public transit in many cities includes buses and trains. In Oregon City, it also includes an elevator. The municipal elevator links the city’s upper neighborhood, nestled on top of a basalt cliff, to its lower neighborhood, along the Willamette River. At 130 feet, the municipal elevator is the only outdoor elevator of its kind in the U.S. It’s one of four in the entire world.
10. Skyview Elevator
The Skyview Globe Arena is a dome-shaped building in the heart of Stockholm. It first opened in 1989 and is among the largest globe-shaped buildings worldwide. On the exterior of the building are globe-shaped elevators that transport visitors to the top, giving them an impressive view of the city.
What makes the Skyview elevators unique is their shape and function. As the elevators travel up and over the building, the floor stays level, so people inside don’t fall over or tilt as they ride.
11. Santa Justa Lift
Lisbon, Portugal, is a multi-leveled city. People can travel up and down the streets of Lisbon by taking the stairs or by catching a lift in one of several funiculars. Another option is to take the Santa Justa lift, the only remaining public elevator in the city.
The lift was built at the start of the 20th century. It features ornate ironwork that looks like it came straight out of a Gothic novel.
Combine Form and Function With a Residential Elevator
While an elevator in your home won’t be nearly as tall as the Bailong Elevator or as unique as the AquaDom, it can still make your life easier and add convenience to your routine. If you’re considering retrofitting your home with an elevator or installing an elevator in new construction, contact an Inclinator dealer near you today.