The 10 Most Impressive Elevators in the World

May 3, 2020
Written by Arpan Ghosh

What goes up must come down, that is one of the immutable laws of the world. Why not travel both ways in spectacular style? These are some of the coolest elevators in the world, that turn the simple act of ascending and descending a structure into a thrilling experience.

 

Hammetschwand Lift, Switzerland

At first glance, the Hammetschwand Lift seems like it might be the leftover ruin of an old castle, or a construction project that ended up being abandoned. The thin skeletal frame topped by a fairy tale turret makes for quite an unusual sight, and an even more breathtaking ride. First opened in 1905, the lift takes you up to the famous lookout point of Hammetschwand, set atop the Burgenstock Plateau and looking out over the beautiful Lake Lucerne. It is Europe’s highest exterior elevator and one of the world’s most picturesque.
 

AquaDom, Germany

If you walk into Berlin’s Radisson Blu Hotel, you will be greeted by the magnificent sight of a cylindrical aquarium seeming to float above the lobby. The AquaDom, as it is known, stands an impressive 82 feet high, is filled with 1 million litres of water and contains over 1,500 fish from more than 50 species. Regarded as the largest freestanding aquarium in the world, the AquaDom has a transparent elevator built into its centre that provides lift passengers with a truly incredible ‘underwater’ view.
 

Bailong Elevator, China

The Bailong Elevator is impressive in name alone, roughly translating to ‘Hundred Dragons’ Elevator, but there is much more to it than just that. For one, the elevator itself is made entirely of glass, which means that you can gaze out over the beauty of the Zhangjiajie Forest National Park in awe as you climb a dizzying 1,000 feet high. Unsurprisingly, Bailong is the tallest outdoor elevator in the world and also the heaviest. If the thought of scaling that height in what is effectively a glass box makes your head spin, you could instead opt for a two-and-a-half-hour hike to the top.
 

Burj Khalifa, Dubai

How does one get to the top of the world’s tallest tower? Quite simply, by riding in some of  the world’s fastest double-deck elevators. These lifts, which have a total capacity of 12 to 14 people, zoom along at a brisk 22 mph and can cover the entire length of the tower in less than 90 seconds. Want to go to the famous At the Top observation deck? That will only take you about a minute. Aside from speed, they also hold the record for the longest distance traveled by elevator (1,654 feet) as well as for the highest indoor elevators in the world. 
 

Mercedes Benz Museum, Germany

The Mercedes Benz Museum in Stuttgart is an intriguing work of architecture. It has a gorgeous space-age design with uneven sloping surfaces and a footprint that resembles a Wankel engine (commonly used in Mercedes vehicles). The interior is starkly minimalist, with simple concrete surfaces that allow the exhibits to take centre stage. There is one element that stands out in the interior design, however - the capsule-shaped elevators that look more like space pods than lifts. This incredibly unique design is all part of the engine motif with the elevators acting as ‘pistons’ within the museum.
 

Falkirk Wheel, Scotland

This particular elevator isn’t particularly impressive in terms of its height, which is only equivalent to about eight stories. What puts this on our list is the way that it operates - it is essentially a water wheel, boat and lift rolled (quite literally) into one, and is in fact the world’s only boat lift. The Falkirk Wheel serves to connect the Union Canal to the Forth & Clyde Canal and makes for an imposing sight with its propeller-inspired design.
 

SkyView, Sweden

Looking very much like it could be the climactic setpiece in an espionage thriller, the SkyView is a glass-encased ball that travels up and down the curving sides of the Ericsson Globe, the world’s largest hemispherical building. The Globe is an indoor arena that is used for concerts and, more commonly, for ice hockey games. From the top of the globe, you get a picture perfect view of Stockholm, which makes the roughly 10-minute ascent well worth it.

Eiffel Tower, France

The famous French landmark hardly needs much of an introduction. It has six lifts in total, two of which have been in operation since the tower first opened in 1889! What makes a ride on the Eiffel Tower so unlike anything else is that the elevator trip is split into two phases. The second phase is your standard vertical rise (which includes a breathtaking panorama of Paris), while the first phase takes you across one of the tower’s legs - in other words, diagonally. That’s not the sort of elevator experience you can find anywhere outside of a Roald Dahl book.

The Louvre, France

Who knew that the City of Love was also the City of Unusual Elevators? As it turns out, one of the world’s most famous hubs of art and culture has an elevator that is also nothing short of a masterpiece in itself. In the main foyer of the Louvre, a beautiful spiral staircase guides you across the levels of the museum. And at the centre of the spiral, a metal pillar rises as it ferries passengers to the top floor, and then disappears beneath the floor as it takes them down to the basement level. When not in use, you wouldn’t even know it existed. The hydraulic lift is also notable for not having a roof, allowing you to take a 360-degree tour of the museum in one go.

 

Lacerda, Brazil

This beautiful work of Art Deco architecture was built in 1837. It was Brazil’s first elevator and is still in use today, connecting the upper and lower levels of the port city of Bahia. The lift is relatively miniscule in stature, standing a mere 27 feet high. But when you couple its gorgeous design with the historical buildings and statues that can be seen around the city and the amazing view of the Atlantic Ocean, it is absolutely worth the trip.

 

Mercedes Benz Museum and Musee de Louvre images courtesy of Pinterest. Hammetschwand, AquaDom, Bailong, Falkirk and Sky View images courtesy of their respective Facebook pages. Lacerda image courtesy of Reddit.