As one of my trademark enterprises when I travel now, making the climb to the tops of medieval church towers and mountain tops give an equal thrill and sense of wonder every time! Climbing the 533 steps from the plaza ground below up to the near top of the twin Gothic towers was a tremendous and most memorable experience! With a breath-taking view of the ancient city that began as a Roman outpost and the expanse of the river Rhein being crossed by unique bridges was definitely worth the few Euro! The construction of the magnificent structure began in 1248 and continued over centuries until completion in 1880, surviving numerous wars from conception and after with the extensive bombing of the city during the second World War. Today, der Kölner Dom or Cathedral of Cologne, stands as the largest Gothic church in all of Europe and has the second tallest spires following the Ulmer Münster, but the tallest of all Roman Catholic Churches. The two giant spires reaching above the cruciform sanctuary give way to the church in having the largest facade of any church in the world and I would go as far to say the most beautiful as well!
Making time in the belfry to hear the bells strike time is always a worthwhile stop, plus it lets you catch a break from climbing the stone spiral stairs for a few minutes! Being the cathedral likes being at the top of lists, the "Dicke Pitter" in the Kölsch dialect or Bell of Saint Peter is the largest free swinging bell in the world. Weighing in 24 tons, the bell is quite large as you can see in the picture above with people standing on the other side of the casing. Aside from being a record holder of many titles, the climb to the top stands out above most as far as memories made up the winding ways to the top of this Gothic wonder.