According to Aristotle, the stairway represented the divine order of the universe. In their metaphysical ambition to link heaven and earth, the early Mesopotamians melded the stairway and the spiral when they created their legendary ziggurat.
The double helix staircase at Chateau de Chambord, its design attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, is a puzzle (how can you see another person on the stairs but not meet them face to face?).
When I first saw the Jantar Mantar with its seemingly random placement of stone stairways the observatory looked like a collection of movable gateways waiting for the planes to land. It looked surreal, rather than what it was, the embodiment of scientifically calculated star-watching posts in fact, stairways to the stars.
Clerics and all manner of royal personages have deployed stairways in grandiose ceremonies and buildings.
Aspects of worship or pilgrimage are often associated with climbing.
A stairway implies the magic and mystery of the transitory, the idea of ascending toward the invisible with all its attendant symbolism.
A spiral or helix stairway could be energy frozen in time and space, like freezing water.
This beautiful spiral mahogany staircase was located in the Rose Inn, a B & B just north of Ithaca, New York. A fire in 2004 destroyed the staircase and the section of the Inn which housed it. Unfortunately it will not be rebuilt.
A neglected stairway is a melancholy sight even the light seems to be in retreat. A grand staircase at Parc de Sceaux near Paris, as photographed by Andre Kertesz, is the image of desertion.