Ulm Minster, the world’s tallest church is facing one of the most serious, and certainly most unusual, threats in its 639-year existence. As well as a place of worship, the famous church, located in the southern German city of Ulm, continues to be a popular site for men to relieve themselves, with officials warning that the acids and salts in the urine are eroding its sandstone base.
Earlier this year, authorities doubled the fine for the offense from 50 to 100 euros ($54 to $109) in an attempt to curb the problem. However, the man in charge of the agency tasked with preserving the church says the issue has continued unabated.
"I've been keeping an eye on it for half a year now and, once again, it's coated with urine and vomit," Michael Hilbert said, reports Suedwest Presse. “I am not the pee police, but this is about preserving law and order."
Hilbert has put much of the problem down to the number of events, such as wine festivals and Christmas markets, being held on the square around the gothic church as well as organizers not providing enough free toilets.
Ulm Minster is often referred to as Ulm Cathedral because of its huge size although it has never been the seat of a bishop. Its steeple measures 530 feet, making it the highest in the world. Laid in 1377, the structure’s base recently underwent a costly restoration, according to Germany publication Deutsche Welle.
A city spokeswoman has admitted that something needs to be done to prevent further damage to the church and states that police presence has increased in the area. For one recent festival, access to the southern part of the church was even shut off. However, she concedes that the number of incidents of men relieving themselves remains largely unchanged, despite the doubling of fines.
“A solution is probably impossible as long as there are people, she said.