The next day we climbed over 300 steps in a small winding staircase (fighting more tourists coming both ways) to the top of the Cathedral spire. About half way up you could take a break at the bell tower. The bell behind is 24 tonnes of free swinging iron! (But currently undergoing repairs.)
Notice the worn down stairs? It is simply amazing what time and persistance can do to even the hardest of things.
I was awed by the attention to detail that did not wane, even on the highest and hardest to reach spires. How were these Cathedrals built? I am truly perplexed.
Even though the city of Cologne was pretty much levelled by the bombings in WWII, the Cathedral was minimally damaged. Those famous flying buttresses not only hold up an amazing amount of weight, they also give the structure flexibility. It was able to absorb the impact of the bombs without shattering.