Photo: Radowitz/Shutterstock

This Elevator in Prague Never Stops for You. Instead, You Need to Jump In.

Art + Architecture
by Morgane Croissant Jan 3, 2023

If you think elevators are a fixture of daily life that can’t possibly be made interesting, think again. There is more than one kind of elevators in this world, and some of them are truly bizarre, from the underwater elevator in the Baltic Sea to the Schmid Peoplemover, an elevator that moves up and down and left and right, to the paternoster elevator, a contraption of doorless compartments that go up and down a shaft without stopping.

@matadornetwork This incredibly unique type of elevator that has been around since the 1800s. Paternoster elevators are more commonly found in Eastern Europe. Instead of stopping at each floor, it moves continuously in an unending loop. Plus, with no doors or buttons – the experience is both exciting and a bit intimidating. Would you ride these fascinating lifts? 🎥 IG: @sandragasmi #elevators #lifts #traveltok #traveltiktok #europetravel #europetravels ♬ original sound – heyy

Paternoster elevators, invented in the 1860s by an English architect, consists of two side-by-side elevator shafts within which a chain of open compartments (fit for a couple of people only) continuously go up and down without ever stopping. Those who wish to ride a paternoster need to walk in carefully and walk out just as gingerly when they have reached their destination. There’s no room for distraction or hesitation with a paternoster elevator — you need to be decisive and quick or you should take the stairs.

Paternoster elevators, sometimes only called paternosters, are found in Europe, but even there, they are harder and harder to find. Slowly but surely, the paternosters of Europe are being phased out to give way to safer, easier to maintain, and more accessible elevators (people with disabilities cannot use paternosters safely).

The paternoster elevator featured in the video above is located in Prague, Czech Republic, in the New Town Hall. You can walk in and give it a try if you feel brave enough. If you’re in England and want to try out a paternoster elevator, head over to the Arts Tower in Sheffield where a paternoster consisting of 38 two-person cars travels up and down 22 floors.

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