The service at Köln Dom last Sunday was an immersive and interesting experience. The towering architecture of the Gothic style cathedral deepened are awe as we were immersed in the atmosphere of the Dom. Hymns in German as well as Latin chants were part of the Catholic liturgy. Accompanying and leading the singing of the congregation, there was a choir and an organist.
The Catholic service was highly structured and followed a prescribed liturgy that was well known to the regular catholic worshipers. It did seem that many of the 700 congregants were not regular worshippers at the Köln Dom. I was surprised that the Dom was almost full for the 10am Sunday mass, and I assume it was similar for the other masses at 7, 8 and 9am. I think this is likely due to the fact that the Köln Dom is a large tourist destination and is a very popular destination for Catholics especially.
The historical significance of the Dom was apparent due to its prominence in the city. The Köln Dom is a symbol of the city and its history. The Dom was constructed starting in 1248 and finished after a long break in 1880. After the war restoration efforts began that are still underway today. Scaffolding for restoration works can be seen on the side of the Dom.
The Köln Dom is the main tourist attraction in Köln and it can be expected that many people will want to gain access to see the Cathedral not as a place of worship but as a historic monument. At the close of the service there was a large crowd of tourists waiting to get inside the dom. And a group of ushers were monitoring the awaiting crowd as the congregants left at the close of the service. It definitely felt like as a member of the congregation, that we were part of the tourist attraction as we attended the service. This is likely the case with many famous Cathedrals and Doms across Europe as there is a decline in church attendance and increases in tourism. Many churches capitalise on the tourism by charging a fee for entry. However, the Köln Dom does not charge entry but has other donation options visible to tourists. For many of the old churches across Europe, tourist entry fees are likely a large source of revenue, but it makes churches seem more like museums and less like houses of worship that are open to everyone.