Vatican City Spiral Staircase

7:00 AM

Vatican City Museum Spiral Staircase, 1854
Through me you enter into the city of woes,
Through me you enter into eternal pain,
through me you enter the population of loss.
Justice moved my high maker, in power divine,
wisdom supreme, love primal. no things were before me not eternal; eternal I remain
Abandon all hope, you who enter here.

- Inferno, Dante, Canto III, Lines 1-7.


This quote would definitely be a cruel opener for a final exam. Or a very clear warning for Dante to get out of there. (Too bad Virgil’s apparently an optimist and encourages him to enter. Double yikes.) This quote graces the Gates of Dis, or the Entrance to Hell, and serves as a final nail in the coffin that any sinner that manages to enter these gates has no need to retain hope for escape. It’s a miracle Dante doesn’t swoon at this warning. 

Because Dante describes Hell as one of many levels with different types of sinners on each level, almost like a spiral down to the worst, most dismal part, I chose the staircases of Vatican City’s museums as a representation of the quote. Renown for their classic spiral down to the bottom, it reminded me of the the seemingly spiral descent into hell. But it's also beautiful, both the stairs and hell in a strange way. The pain and woes of hell bring an odd sense of beauty. It's the mixture of the different levels of pain and sins that meld together to create this intricately designed hell known as Dante's Inferno. Perhaps it's the beauty of the complexity that attracts me to the entrance of hell,and its disconsolate words create a dangerous image that's chilling and beautiful . 

I think the Vatican City Museum Staircase represents it well with the colors the designers use. It starts off as a light gray and slowly changes hues to a darker but warm brown. It's gorgeous and a little bit intimidating.  

Although the Vatican City museums clearly aren't as frightening as the quote, the style of the stairs are intricately made and the seemingly perfect spiral down to each level seem to give a different feel on each level - just like in Dante’s Inferno.

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