Amazing Places

The World's Tallest Church Is Being Eroded By Pee

Germany's Ulm Minster, a 14th-century church finished in 1890, holds the record for the world's tallest church tower at 530 feet (161.53 meters). That's nearly as tall as the Washington monument. What grandeur! What glory! What ... a weird smell. Yep, the century-old structure is being threatened by something you'd dare not expect: urine.

Taking Aim at History

Ulm Minster is on a lot of record lists: not only is its tower the tallest, but the building itself is the fourth largest structure in the world built before the 20th century and it's the 12th largest church by area. And even though Ulm, the city it calls home and the birthplace of Albert Einstein, was heavily bombed during World War II, the church was miraculously left unscathed.

And yet its eventual downfall might come down to drunken pedestrians in need of a restroom. Conservators say that the church's stone base is slowly dissolving beneath the salts and acids in the urine of passersby. Ulm isn't particularly known for having a rowdy nightlife, but it is across the Danube river from the beer mecca of Bavaria. Ulm Minster's head mason, Michael Hilbert, blames the city's Christmas market and its annual wine festival. Plus a lack of toilets, we'd assume.

Urine Big Trouble

In response, the city increased police patrols and doubled the fines for those caught with their pants down, so to speak, making the penalty a full 100 euros. It hasn't made much of a difference.

"I've been keeping an eye on it for half a year now and, once again, it's coated with urine and vomit," Hilbert told the Südwest Presse in 2016. "I am not the pee police, but this is about preserving law and order." According to a spokeswoman, there isn't much that can be done. The problem will probably keep happening as long as there are people — and that means bad things for this historic structure.

Ulm Minster, Germany

Written by Ashley Hamer January 17, 2018

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