There are more than a handful of tourist attractions that feature great staircases. Among those that immediately to mind: the stairs that spiral up the Loretto Chapel in the Vatican, the stairs leading down to the ritual bathing areas along the Ganges River in Varanasi, India and the stairs that ascend Mexico’s Chichen Itza temple. But the world’s coolest set of stairs don’t go anywhere at all. For those you’ll have to visit Angerpark in the town of Duisburg, in the Ruhr area of Germany.
That’s where you’ll find a massive sculpture cryptically named The Turtle and Tiger. The moniker is an oblique reference to the structure’s sort of optical illusion. From a distance it looks very much like a roller coaster (the “tiger”). It’s only when you get close up you realize that the biggest adrenaline rush on offer comes from the walking up the stairs (the “turtle”) and taking in the superb view.
To our eye, The Turtle and Tiger’s more impressive optical transformation is the one that happens throughout the day. When the sun is out the climbable sculpture looks completely different than it does at dusk, when the shape of the stairs and the view beyond takes on a high contrast. After nightfall, the entire look and vibe at the sculpture transforms again as the entire thing is lit with LED lights.
In addition to being the world’s coolest staircase, Angerpark is also the coolest attraction in Duisburg (with a tour of the König brewery — more info here in German only — coming in a close second). The gritty city, the country’s 15th largest, was one of the first places in Germany that the industrial revolution took hold. To this day Duisburg remains a major producer of steel, zinc and hot metal products. That sort of manufacturing being on the decline, area officials are embarking on a make-over.
The Turtle and Tiger is symbolic of this metamorphosis. Though the structure is made from locally produced steel and zinc, Angerpark itself sits ironically on the remnants of what was once home to Germany’s largest zinc smelter; it operated here from 1905 until 2008. The hill that the The Turtle and Tiger stands upon is actually a covered-up landfill.
Visiting tip: To optimally enjoy a visit to Angerpark, try not to think about the fact that you are above an enormous mound of industrial waste.
Oh, if you’ve looked at the photos on this page you are probably wondering: What about the loop? Though you can (and should) climb the stairs part way into the loop, a barrier prevents you from attempting to sprint around it at high speed. We assume officials were worried about your loose pocket change falling down on the visitors below.
Planning your trip:
Getting there: Angerpark isn’t yet listed on Google; it’s located at the pin we’ve placed on the interactive map, below.
Where to stay: The accommodations in Duisburg are powerfully uninspired. For a cool — and cheap — place to stay nearby check out the excellent Chillten Bottrop.
Düsseldorf layover: Angerpark is about a 25 minute drive or 60 minutes via public transportation from Düsseldorf airport and makes for a great trip if you have a few hours to kill between flights.
Family friendly? Absolutely, though there’s no public restroom on the grounds.
For your bookshelf: Upstairs Downstairs
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