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Jan 19, 2002
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Jan 21, 2002
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Unlike the cathedral in Trier, people were shooting photos inside the Cologne Cathedral at will. This was less of a church and more of a tourist attraction. The dimensions of the cathedral are massive as far as cathedrals go--472 feet long, 283 feet wide, with interior ceiling 143 feet high. My photos don't come close to capturing the splendor of this work of art. Speaking of works of 'art', below is a shot of me. I paid 1.5 Euros to go to the top of the cathedral. There was just one catch--there were no elevators, and I had to climb 519 steps in a winding, steep, tiny, claustrophobic, dirty stairwell made of stone that was no more than three feet wide.

This would be a problem. I’m slightly claustrophobic and afraid of heights, although widths and circumferences don't usually phase me. I was only a fraction of the way up when I started feeling light-headed and very nervous. I wondered if I'd trip over skeletons of those who freaked out and died in the stairwell. The up and down people used the same narrow stairway, and the steps were barely three feet wide per photos I've posted--about an inch wider than my shoulders. Tripping on the wet stone stairs would have sent me tumbling in a very nasty fall. As is the case on winding stairways, the inner steps are almost vertical. I stopped a number of times and tried to calm my breathing, feeling much like I did when I drove up Mt. Evans last summer. I thought I was hyperventilating. After I got out of the stone stairwell I had to walk through dark stone hallways two-feet wide to Der GroBBe Peter (St. Peter’s Bell), one of the nine church bells at the Dom. It weighed 24 tons and was the largest swinging bell in the world. The clapper alone weighed 1763 pounds and could give you one of the biggest claps you'd ever hear.

Click on photos with pink borders to see full-resolution image.

Cologne Dom, Germany, front porch
Cologne Dom, Germany, front porch
Cologne Dom, Germany...It's the Cologne colon!Cologne Dom, Germany...staircageDo I look like a Gargoyle now?

Then another climb of 50 feet on an open-air, metal, caged stairway open to the winds 300 feet above the streets below. It was all scary as hell! I thought I would trip or get so nervous my hand would lock on the rails and they'd have to cut the rail loose and I'd end up having a piece of rail in my hand for the rest of my life! I talked to myself and tried singing to keep my nerves down to prevent fainting. Then a climb of about 17 feet up another enclosed stairwell that was even tinier brought me to sunlight. The view from the top is worth the walk.

See the tree on the photo on the right? It's the same tree I shot through for the first photo at the top of the previous page.

You can see all of Köln and the magical spires of the church close up. To the south was the Hohenzollernbrucke, the busiest rail bridge in the world, with a train crossing every two minutes, day and night, night and day. I saw the Colonius, which sounds a little like something you'd see on an informercial about colon cleansing.

The walk down was less scary, but still I was relieved to reach bottom. Moved to give to two beggars near the main entrance but not sure if they were together, I stood aside to count equal donations for both. As I approached, another lady saw the money and approached me. "Money--give--money!” she chanted in a disturbing way, and followed me. Then I noticed others. This could be dangerous if I started handing out bills and I didn’t have any Euros to get back. I stuffed them in my pocket and walked away. I hate pushy beggars.

On the drive back I stopped by Trier but it was already dark and I got lost in the town for 30 minutes. With little lighting, it was spooky. I gave up the search, knowing the cathedral was probably already closed.

First I looked up at the top from the bottom and then I went to the top to look down to where I'd looked up...*sigh*
Cologne, Germany...the Hohenzollernbrucke Bridge, busiest railroad bridge in the world World's largest swinging bell

Colonius, tallest structure in Cologne, 830 feet at the time

Cologne Dom, Germany, inner structure

Cologne Dom, Germany, tourists at the observation deck

Cologne Dom, Germany, steeple

Cologne, Germany, as seen from the Dom

Cologne, Germany, seen from the Cologne Dom