Cologne Cathedral on the Rhine is one of the tallest churches in the world. Germany’s most-visited landmark hosts royalty, politicians and celebrities.
In the course of its history Cologne’s majestic cathedral (known in German as ‘Der Kölner Dom’) has repeatedly been used for political and commercial ends. The documentary shows how the gentle giant has always retained its dignity. Home to one of the largest church treasuries in Germany, even today the cathedral continues to play an important role in the city’s economic life. It attracts 20,000 visitors a day and its silhouette is used to promote the sale of all manner of products and souvenirs, from bottle openers to cookie cutters. As a powerful and distinctive symbol, it is also used to ensure publicity; the cathedral has seen environmental activists chaining themselves to scaffolding around its spires and a feminist protester appearing topless during a Christmas mass, while skaters and buskers also use the cathedral square for performances. The cathedral provides a backdrop for heads of state, international music stars and party events, but is exposed on a daily basis to wear and tear – from vandalism, street urination and the weather. The maintenance bill alone runs to around €20,000 a day. There have even been break-ins – the most spectacular being the Cathedral treasure robbery in 1975, described in the documentary by former public prosecutor Maria Therese Mösch. And one thing is certain: Cologne Cathedral and its powerful cardinals will always play a key role in Germany’s Catholic church.