(Photo: Getty Images)
When you want to sightsee and exercise at the same time, there's only one thing to do: climb a really, really big staircase. And if any are beautiful enough to tame your fear of heights, there are some pretty spectacular ones to check out.
We're counting down some of our favorite staircases in the world. They're not necessarily the highest or the steepest, but the kind of stuff that would make M.C. Escher jealous. Take a peek, lace up your imagination's walking shoes, and prepare to ascend one of these puppies (or bring along an actual puppy, if possible).
7. Rajasthan, India
In India, stepwells are more than just reservoirs: they're gathering places to hang out and escape the heat. This ancient community function means stepwells are also a geometric art form all their own.
6. Tiger and Turtle, Germany
5. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
The steps to the upper levels of this ancient temple complex are steep... so steep that some tourists hoist themselves up with their hands.
4. Tianmen Mountain, China
They say the geography of Pandora, the setting of "Avatar," was modeled after the mountains that surround this steep staircase.
3. San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, Spain
To get to a teensy island dedicated to John the Baptist, visitors must weave along a narrow path above the sea. Tradition says that once you make it, you should ring the island's church bell three times.
2. Lysefjord, Norway
1. Montagne de Bueren, Belgium
When the villainous Duke of Burgundy controlled Liege in the 1400s, patriots marched up this staircase to overthrow him... and they failed. But climb in their footsteps anyway!