The spiral staircase is by its very definition, a case of stairs with a middle pole or post of which the stairs are set out around in a spiral. The stairs ascend in a spiral-like pattern allowing users to achieve elevation with moderate ease. We’re not exactly sure when spiral staircases were first used, but we do know why they were first used.
During the Middle ages, from roughly the 5th century to the 12th century, spiral staircases were often used within the walls of a castle, especially to reach the tops of towers. They were primarily used as a defense mechanism in which defenders of the castle could use their dominant arm, the one with which they would wield their sword, more efficiently than those who were storming the castle. If two fighters are right handed (right handed being the dominant hand for a majority of people at the time) then the person who was higher up on the stairs could more easily access their sword. As well, maneuvering their sword against their opponent would also be much easier than if they were on the lower platforms.
The narrowness of the spiral staircase was also commonly employed as a defense mechanism since it forced a one-on-one fight between swordsmen rather than allowing the defender to be overwhelmed by a barrage of attackers.
Today’s modern spiral staircases are equally as functional as their historical counterparts. They are used primarily in smaller homes and apartments in which narrow stairs are the only option. However, due to their historical significance, this gives these smaller apartments a greater sense of grandeur.
It is also important to note that spiral staircases have been commonly used in firehouses for a very specific reason. It turns out that in firehouses the early and late 19th century, horses that were used to draw the firehouses carriages would often follow firemen up to the second or third floor of the firehouse. when the fire bell rang alarming the firemen of a serious situation, they would have a difficult time convincing the horses to go back down the stairs. This lead to some pretty hazardous, and even deadly situations. For this reason, spiral staircases were implemented into firehouses since horses couldn’t exactly shimmy their way up them the way that humans can.
It is commonly held that the first spiral staircases were made out of stone, as most stairs were, but they are now commonly found in every imaginable material, from metal to wood, and everything in between. Spiral stairs cases can also be customized to fit any home, it really just depends on the users budget and whim.
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