Climbing To The Top Of The Kölner Dom…In Heels

Fashion is not of the utmost importance when traveling. For me, “comfort” is usually the name of the game. However, when I visited Cologne on a cold day in April, I was dressed to impress with a long black coat, pashmina scarf, skinny jeans and boots with heels.

I had been staying with my friend in Wiesbaden and we drove to Cologne to meet up with a mutual friend. I thought we were just going to be walking around and going out for dinner and drinks so I had opted for a trendier outfit.

We walked around sightseeing for a while and my friend was keen to make sure I saw as much as possible of his home city. He insisted that we go to the top of the Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral) to see the view over the whole city and the Rhine.

My fear of heights should have deterred me, but before I knew what was happening we had bought our tickets and I was shocked to learn that there were 509 steps to the top! We quickly ascended the first 30 or 40, until the challenging spiral staircase started becoming a bit harder. My heeled booties were just about fitting onto each step and I had to cling onto the side of the wall as the people descending came towards me.

I eventually realized what I had gotten myself into. In front of me, my friend was huffing and puffing and behind me, my other friend had stopped to catch her breath.

I plodded on, concentrating on each step and ignoring the pain in my feet and thigh muscles. When we reached the top, I was genuinely nervous because we were so high up (I later learned that the cathedral viewing platform is over 300 feet up)! The staircase had no windows so I had not realized how much had climbed.

My fear, however, didn’t kick in until I looked down over all of Cologne. It was an impressive sight! People complain that Cologne isn’t a pretty city because of all its concrete buildings. I think they are fools. For a city that was destroyed during WWII, it is amazing how Cologne has rebuilt itself. I completely understood my friend’s pride in his hometown and desire to show it off.

Fortunately, descending the stairs was much easier and quicker. Yet, I felt a strange sense of falling forward as I bounced down the stone steps.

When my feet touched solid ground again, I was beyond happy (No wonder some people walk up and down their stairs to work out if they can’t make it to the gym). I was out of breath and my legs and feet were aching, so the obvious next destination (to reward ourselves) was the bar. We went to a pub nearby the cathedral called Früh, where I felt completely enveloped in German tradition as I sat in the pub resting my tired feet.

I ended up ordering three rounds of Kölsch beer (Prost)!

The little piece of advice I would offer to anyone planning to visit the fantastic medieval cathedral in Cologne: be sure to wear comfortable shoes!!