In other DaVinci Code news, there’s the story of the Winchester Cathedral selling out. First the cathedral opened its doors to the film-makers for almost $35,000 after Westminster Abbey refused. Now Winchester Cathedral is considering charging tourists almost $7 each to tour the cathedral.
While it’s easy to accuse the cathedral of selling out, the building does date back to 1079 and will need almost $7 million in repairs in the next decade, while facing a potential $1.75 million deficit in the next five years if they don’t act.
It all gets rather complicated when a church building becomes more than a church building. Historic buildings become tourist attractions, and the church has to balance potential outreach to tourists and maintaining a piece of church history with a modern congregation. Do they leave the building behind and let a secular company run it as a tourist spot, or do they hang on and try to preserve the history and spiritual connection?
It’s a unique problem–you just don’t see many businesses trying to operate in a 1,000-year-old structure. It’s also a problem fairly unique to Europe and its ancient cathedrals.