Escalier du roi d'Aragon (King of Aragon’s Stairs) - Atlas Obscura

Escalier du roi d'Aragon (King of Aragon’s Stairs)

Bonifacio, France

A breathtakingly steep set of stairs is carved directly into the face of the sea cliffs of Bonifacio. 


Bonifacio is the southernmost city of the French Mediterranean island of Corsica. Like the nearby city of Bastia, which is home to Scala Santa in the Chapel of Notre Dame de Monserat, Bonifacio boasts an impressive set of stairs. The Escalier du Roi d’Aragon (King of Aragon’s Stairs) is a dizzying 45-degree 189-tread staircase carved directly into the limestone cliffs.

The legend of the stair’s origins posits that the stairs were dug in a single night in 1420 by the soldiers of King Alfonse V, a king of Sicily, Aragon, and Naples; but historical accounts show that the staircase was intended for use to access the Saint-Barthélemy well, a freshwater well which is now closed. The exact timeline of its original construction is unclear, but the stairs endure to this day where they are now a challenging and alluring attraction.

The views from the stairs are as breathtaking as the view within the stairwell itself. A handrail has been installed, but the trek down (and necessary climb back up) are not for the faint of heart or weak of body. A walkway slightly above the Mediterranean is the reward that awaits those brave enough to attempt the descent, providing views into stunningly azure waters and opportunities to view marine life in the tidal pools of the rocks at the cliff’s base. On exceptionally clear days, the Italian island of Sardinia can even be seen far off to the south.

Know Before You Go

The stairs are physically challenging and mentally daunting; the incline is quite sharp and very steep, and it is an uninterrupted descent; there are no landings or "breaks" in the stair; it is highly recommended that you be in capable physical condition as the descent is demanding and the return ascent even more so. Individuals with a fear of heights and/or enclosed spaces are advised not to attempt to scale the stairs.

Visitors are required to wear closed, flat shoes and a helmet when they attempt the climb. The fee is around 5 euros.

The hours of the stair's operation are limited, and will be curtailed in days of inclement weather so be sure to inquire and plan ahead if you are going to visit.

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March 28, 2024

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