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Pee problem eroding world's tallest church

By News from Elsewhere... found by BBC Monitoring

image copyrightiStock/SergiyN
image captionMagnificent Ulm Minster is facing an unpleasant problem

The German city of Ulm is desperate to stop men from relieving themselves on its famous church because persistent peeing is damaging the historic structure.

Those responsible for conserving Ulm Minster, which has the world's tallest church tower, say its stone base is being eroded by the salts and acids in the urine, Suedwest Presse reports. The city doubled fines for those caught to 100 euros ($110; £90) earlier this year, but it has made little difference.

"I've been keeping an eye on it for half a year now and, once again, it's coated with urine and vomit," says Michael Hilbert, head of the department that maintains the building. Mr Hilbert tells Suedwest Presse that he's not the "Pinkelpolizei", or "pee police", but wants official action over the anti-social problem. "This is about preserving law and order," he says.

Ulm Minster's steeple measures 161.53m (530ft), and the building is often referred to as a cathedral because of its sheer size. Its sandstone base recently underwent a costly restoration, Deutsche Welle notes.

As in many cities, the area around the church is used for events throughout the year, and Mr Hilbert says organisers should provide free toilets so that men stop gravitating towards the building's magnificent Gothic frontage when nature calls.

A city spokeswoman tells Suedwest Presse that while police patrols have increased, virtually nobody has been caught in the act recently, and she accepts that the higher fines have had no effect. The problem is likely to persist for as long as there are people, she says.

While Ulm Minster is widely regarded as the world's tallest church at the moment, it will be surpassed in height once Barcelona's Sagrada Familia is finally completed in 2026. Gaudi's masterpiece is due to rise to 172.5m (566ft) once finished.

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  • Germany
  • BBC Monitoring