Nifty lifty.

On my business travels around the world, I come across some of the most ingeniously intriguing bits of tech-kit, which never cease to amaze me. Simple ideas, efficient ideas, effective ideas, smart ideas. And they normally were thought up long ago. Maybe they just seem quaint now because of modern hi-tech overload numbing? That’s possible. Still, they’re no less fascinating for it…

Here’s a perfect example: the paternoster (meaning ‘Our Father’ in German).

It’s an elevator that goes up and down non-stop with a fairground carousel-like action. Or you could think of it as a vertical escalator. Wikipedia describes it as similar to rosary beads passing through one’s fingers round and round. Not so sure about that one. Hmmm, photos don’t really help out either in trying to explain exactly what it is. But I think the animated gif on Wikipedia cracks it:

Paternoster: how it works?

The first ‘Our Daddy’ I saw was in Hamburg in the Axel Springer building in 2009. Nice.

The second time I saw had a ride on one was just recently in Vienna, in the Haus der Industrie. It’s really quite fun going up in such an elevator and then stepping over into the oncoming compartment when it comes up level. I mean genuine, spontaneous fun! Like being a kid all over again at the fun fair. Yes, we did get a few funny looks from grown-ups :).

Paternoster, Vienna, Austria

Paternoster, Vienna, Austria

Paternoster, Vienna, Austria

I wonder why it’s called ‘Our Father’? Is it a reference to God who omnisciently knows that what goes up, must come down?

What other countries have paternosters? Let me know! I’d love to find out about how this tech has spread around the globe.

Next morning, as usual, it was suitcase > airplane… but this time > home! My latest spot of globetrotting – modest this time, merely Eurasian – completed. 18 days from SVO to SVO. Like so:


Moscow > Hong Kong > Tokyo & Osaka > Monte Carlo > Dublin > Vienna > Moscow.

That’s all for today folks! See you soon!

Comments 3 Leave a note

    Herbert Kuiling

    It’s called a paternoster because it looks like a rosery. When you pray a Pater Noster, you use a rosery in the Roman Catholic Church.

    In The Netherlands there are 7 buildings with a paternoster but they aren’t working:
    1. Old Ziggobuilding, Spaarneplein The Hague. Not in use.
    2. Dudokhuis, Tata Steel Europe IJmuiden. Not in use.
    3. Hakabuilding Vierhavenstraat Rotterdam. In use by appointment.
    4. Old building of the Revenue Service, Rotterdam
    5. Head Postoffice Rotterdam. Not in use.
    6. Scheepvaarthuis Amsterdam. Now: Grand Hotel Amrâth Amsterdam. Paternosters (2) are in use but just as a demo. Not for people.
    7. Old schoolbuilding Mauritskade, Amsterdam.

    Dutch wikipedia:


    there is one in Belgrade in HQ of Serbian Railways – installed in 1930’s and still in function :)


    > I wonder why it’s called ‘Our Father’?

    Pater Noster is Latin, and the first two words of the Christian Lord’s Prayer, which is recited for each large bead in a rosary.

    This is apparently where the name came from, and is what the Wikipedia article’s rosary reference is about.

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