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Top 10 Church and Tower Climbs

Aug 1, 2012 Almost every church or tower in Europe has a bell tower or cupola which is climbable with narrow spiral stone staircases or rickety wooden stairs. What makes a good church climb? A reward of unobstructed views at the top and no elevator. Here's the top ten.

10. Dom, Cologne, Germany (Steps:509 Elevation Gain:98m)
The south tower of Cologne's cathedral can be climbed for magnificient views fo the city.

Website: http://www.koelner-dom.de Entrance:Outside, right of the main entrance Entry Fee:€3

9. Ulm Cathedral, Germany (Steps:768 Elevation Gain:142m)
Touted as having the tallest church tower in the world, this church drops in the ranking since it is not easy to get to. Ulm is 150km west of Munich.

Website: http://www.ulmer-muenster.de Entrance: Inside by main entrance Entry Fee:€4

8. BridgeClimb, Sydney Harbour Bridge (Steps:1437 Elevation Gain:134m)
Not technically a bridge or tower climb, I had to include it in the list. One of of three climbable bridges (Story Bridge in Brisbane and Auckland Harbour Bridge are the others), it is the granddaddy of the three. It's a bit expensive since it is guided and you are suited up in jumpsuits and harnesses and given an orientation beforehand. Safetywise, you are constantly tethered to the safety line and everything must be strapped to your body (personal cameras not allowed). For the budget version, you can climb the south pylon accessible from street level on the east side from the Rocks district.

Website: http://www.bridgeclimb.com Entrance: Take stairs from Argyle St off George St Entry Fee: starts at $198 and goes up depending on season and time of day

7. Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris (Steps:380 Elevation Gain:69m)
Join the queues for the opportunity to climb up the bell towers. The best part of the climb is the views of Paris from the center of the city and getting up close and personal to the gargoyles perched up high.

Website: http://www.notredamedeparis.fr Entrance: Outside on the left side Entry Fee:€8.50

6. St Paul's Cathedral, London (Steps:528 Elevation Gain:85m)
One of the largest churches in Europe, one of the drawbacks is a high admission fee to the church. Churches in other countries are usually free to enter. However, the entry fee includes the climb to the cupola and an audioguide.

Website: http://www.stpauls.co.uk Entrance: Inside, southwest corner of dome Entry Fee:15 GBP

5. St Peters Basilica, Vatican (Steps:551 Elevation Gain:119m)
Once you pass the long but quick lines at security, you'll need to queue again at the ticket office. Church only visitors can head right in. You can take an elevator to the roof but we're all about climbing so we'll save one euro and the lineups for the elevator. Coming down, you will exit inside the church.

Website: http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_pietro/it/cupola/cenni_storici.htm Entrance: Right side of main entrance past security Entry Fee:€5

4. Leaning Tower of Pisa (Steps:294 Elevation Gain:55m)
Not a very long climb but not many people have climbed this famous crooked tower. It was closed and under scaffolding for many years before the lean was stabilized. Reservations are recommended as visitors are lead in by groups. Each group only has approximately 20 minutes inside the tower so you can't linger.

Website: http://boxoffice.opapisa.it/Torre/index.jsp Entrance: Online reservations require tickets to be picked up at the Sinopie Museum or Central Ticket Office Entry Fee:€17 (online)

3. Eiffel Tower, Paris (Steps: 347-1st stage, 674-2nd stage Elevation Gain: 58m-1st stage 116m-2nd stage)
Most people take the elevator up but there are shorter line ups and lower ticket prices for those who want to take the stairs. You can climb to the second level only but tickets can be purchased on the second stage for the elevator to the third stage.

Website: http://www.tour-eiffel.fr Entrance: South pillar Entry Fee:€5

2. Duomo, Florence (Steps:463 Elevation Gain: 114m)
This popular climb will let you pause and rest to admire the frescos from inside the dome. As an added bonus, you can climb the bell tower next door (separate fee applies).

Website: http://www.opapisa.it/en/ Entrance: Outside on the north side (left of front entrance) Entry Fee:€8

1. Church of Our Saviour (Vor Frelsers Kirke), Copenhagen (Steps:400 Elevation Gain:95m)
What makes this the top climb is the unique exterior spiral staircase. Railings are fairly high for those a bit queasy of heights. Don't be beside the bells when they are rung unless you want to reenact the scene from Back to the Future.

Website: http://www.vorfrelserskirke.dk Entrance: Outside right of the main entrance Entry Fee:35DK or €5

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