Elevators have a simple task: safely take passengers from one floor to another. But it doesn’t mean that they have to be boring. Elevator towers for urban transport and modern design elevators attract the great attention of tourists because of their uniqueness, unusual looks, and driving experience. Let’s have a closer look at the most unusual elevators around the world.
01. AquaDom, Germany
The AquaDom in Berlin, Germany, is a 25-meter (82ft) tall cylindrical acrylic glass aquarium with a built-in transparent elevator. It is located at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Berlin-Mitte. The DomAquarée complex also contains a hotel, offices, a restaurant, and the aquarium Sea Life Centre.
The AquaDom was opened in 2004. It cost about 12.8 million euros. The overall construction of the aquarium was designed and built by International Concept Management, Inc. The acrylic cylinder was constructed by the U.S. company Reynolds Polymer Technology. It is now the main attraction of the Berlin Sea Life Centre.
The outside cylinder was manufactured on-site from four pieces; the inside cylinder for the Elevator was delivered in one piece. The AquaDom is the largest acrylic cylindrical aquarium in the world, with a diameter of about 11 meters (36ft) built on a 9-meter (30ft) tall foundation.
Regular maintenance link
Filled with 1,000,000 liters of water, it contains over 1,500 fish of 50 species. The feeding of the fish and the cleaning of the fish tank is performed daily by 3-4 divers. The fish need 8 kg of fish food.
02. Falkirk Wheel, UK
The Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift in Scotland. It connects the Forth and Clyde Canals with the Union Canal. Named after the nearby town of Falkirk in central Scotland, the lift opened in 2002. Eleven locks previously connected the two canals it serves, but by the 1930s, these had fallen into disuse. The locks were filled in, and the land was built upon.
The difference in the height of the two canals at the wheel is 24 meters (79 ft), roughly equivalent to the height of an eight-story building. But the Union Canal is 11 m (36ft) higher than the aqueduct, which meets the wheel, and boats must pass through a pair of locks to descend from this canal onto the aqueduct at the top of the wheel. The aqueduct could not have been positioned higher due to conflicts with the historically significant Antonine Wall.
The wheel has an overall diameter of 35 meters (115 ft) and consists of two opposing arms which extend 15 meters beyond the central axle and take the shape of a Celtic-inspired, double-headed axe. Two sets of these axe-shaped arms are attached about 35 meters (115 ft) apart to a 3.5 meters (11 ft) diameter axle. Two opposed water-filled caissons, each with a capacity of 80,000 imperial gallons (360,000 l; 96,000 US gal), are fitted between the ends of the arms.
The Falkirk Wheel cost £17.5 million, and the restoration project cost £84.5 million. The Falkirk Wheel Visitor Centre offers scheduled one-hour, round-trip boat tours called “The Falkirk Wheel Experience,” which include a passage on the wheel. The tours start below the wheel in the Forth & Clyde Canal, ascend via the wheel to the Union Canal, visit nearby areas on the Union Canal, and then return.
03. Globen Skyview, Sweden
Skyview is a gondola lift built on the south side of the Ericsson Globe, Stockholm. The Ericsson Globe is currently the largest hemispherical building in the world and took two and a half years to build. Shaped like a large white ball, it has a diameter of 110 meters (361 feet) and an inner height of 85 meters (279 feet).
The lift is 100 meters (330 ft) and consists of two spherical cabins, giving visitors an entertaining ride up to the top of the Globe, about 130 meters (425ft) above sea level.
The project began in 2004 and opened in February 2010. One hundred sixty thousand people rode during the first year of operation.
All available tours can sell out during the summer and on weekends, so pre-booking is recommended.
04. Hammetschwand Elevator, Switzerland
The Hammetschwand Lift is the highest exterior Elevator in Europe and is in Switzerland. It connects a spectacular rock path with the lookout point Hammetschwand on the Bürgenstock plateau overlooking Lake Lucerne.
The hotel resort Buergenstock is located at 847 meters a.s.l. (2.780ft) has been a popular vacation spot since 1872. Its attractiveness was enhanced by the spectacular path along the vertical rock face and by an outdoor open lift. To this day, the lift and the way have lost none of their attraction.
The new lift was built and opened by the Schindler Group. It whisks passengers 153 meters (500ft) up to the summit of the Hammetschwand in less than one minute. It was regarded as a pioneering feat in those days and is still a record holder since the Hammetschwand lift holds the number one position as Europe’s highest exterior lift.
05. Bailong Elevator, China
The Bailong Elevator is a glass elevator built onto the side of a massive cliff in the Wulingyuan area of Zhangjiajie, China, 1,070 feet (330 m) high. It is claimed to be the world’s tallest and heaviest outdoor Elevator. Construction of the Elevator began in October 1999 and was opened to the public by 2002.
The environmental effects of the Elevator have been a subject of debate and controversy, as the Wulingyan area was designated a World Heritage Site in 2002. Operations were stopped for ten months in 2002-2003, reportedly due to safety concerns, not environmental ones.
Bailong Elevator takes less than 2 minutes to climb to the summit. It is said to be the world’s highest and quickest sightseeing elevator, with the most significant capacity (50 people).
06. Gateway Arch Elevator, USA
One of the “must-sees” of St. Louis, Missouri, is the Gateway Arch. To go to the top of the Arch, passengers in groups of five enter an egg-shaped compartment containing five seats and a flat floor. Eight compartments are linked to form a train.
View of the Gateway Arch from the observation area link
These compartments individually retain an appropriate level by periodically rotating every 5 degrees, which allows them to maintain the correct orientation. At the same time, the entire train follows curved tracks up one leg of the arch.
The interior of the elevator link
The trip to the top of the Arch takes four minutes, and the back down takes three minutes. The car doors have narrow glass panes, allowing passengers to see the interior stairways and structure of the Arch during the trip.
07. Santa Justa Lift, Portugal
The Santa Justa Lift, also called Carmo Lift, is an elevator/lift in the civil parish of Santa Justa, in the historical city of Lisbon, situated at the end of Rua de Santa Justa. It connects the lower streets of the Baixa with the higher Largo do Carmo (Carmo Square.) Since its construction (1901), the Lift has become a tourist attraction for Lisbon as, among the urban lifts in the city, Santa Justa is the only remaining vertical one.
On the top floor is a kiosk and lookout with panoramic city views. In contrast, connections to the floors below are made (in addition to the Elevator) by two spiral staircases with different patterns on each story. The main machinery was installed at the base of the Elevator, while at the exit to the Largo do Carmo, there is a veranda to allow circulation. The corridor above the structure is transformed into a terrace and exits to Largo do Carmo through an iron gate.
The Lift is decorated in a Neo-Gothic style in iron. Since this was a new material at the time of its construction, it symbolizes the technical and memorial construction from this period, representing the culture of the 1900s, when the structure and elevators were considered a magical innovation and portent of the modern age.
08. Lacerda Elevator, Brazil
The Lacerda Elevator is located in the city of Salvador, Bahia. One of the city’s principal touristic points and postcards, it’s situated in the Cayru Plaza and connects the Cidade Baixa (Lower City) with the Cidade Alta (Upper City).
The most famous Elevator of Bahia transports some 900 thousand passengers per month, or around 28 thousand passengers per day, at five centavos (2 U.S. cents) per passenger and a duration of 30 seconds. This Elevator reaches a height of 72 meters (235ft).
Like the Elevator in Lisbon, this unique construction transports the public from one level of the town to the next while providing a perfect view of the bay coastline below.
09. Mercedes-Benz Museum Elevators, Germany
Though every object, including the World’s Largest Artificial Tornado, at the Mercedes-Benz Museum, an automotive museum in Stuttgart, Germany, has its charm and history related to it, the pill-like elevators moving up and down on three vertical tracks in the main atrium of the museum gives a fantastic experience the visitors.
Connecting to the various floors of the museum, the metal pods combining an abstract ghost-like exterior with dramatic lighting create awe and wonder while moving the visitors from past to present in a short period.
The trip only takes about 30 seconds, so feel free to ride multiple times. You might want to pop off occasionally to see the exhibits covering 125 years of motoring landmarks and the inspiration behind the elevators’ uber-modern look.
10. Asansör, Turkey
Asansör (Turkish for “elevator”) is a historical building in İzmir’s Karataş quarter, within the boundaries of the metropolitan district of Konak.
It was built in 1907 as a work of public service by a wealthy Jewish banker and trader of that period, Nesim Levi Bayraklıoğlu; to ease the passage from the narrow coastline of Karataş to the hillside, the Elevator within the building serves to carry people and goods through the cliff between the two parts of the quarter.
In time, the small street that led to the building also became known under the same name, Asansör Street. Currently, top of Asansör is one of the most famous restaurants in Izmir.
11. Oregon City Municipal Elevator, USA
The Oregon City Municipal Elevator is a 130-foot (40 m) elevator that connects two neighborhoods in Oregon City in the U.S. state of Oregon. It is the only outdoor municipal Elevator in the U.S. and one of only four worldwide. The upper portion contains an observation deck which accounts for its flying saucer appearance.
The Elevator has an operator. It is open 6:45 AM to 7 PM, Monday through Saturday, 11 AM to 7 PM, Sunday Pacific Time. There is no charge to use the Elevator. It carried an average of 500 people per day as of 1989; by 2008, this had grown to nearly 800. Ridership is as high as 1,300 people per day during the city’s summer tourist season.
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