Europe’s largest cathedral steps up security amid international terrorism threats

Amid a wave of terror attacks abroad, steps are being taken to protect visitors to Germany’s biggest tourist destination, the Cologne Cathedral.

In August, police and the City of Cologne agreed to make closures near the historic church in response to the van attack in Barcelona, Spain, which killed 13 people.

According to the Cathedral’s Facebook page, large stone barriers have been placed around the building and nearby streets.

Cathedral dean Robert Kleine welcomed the changes. “Terrorists have used vehicles as a weapon in their attacks. That is why it is right to protect nerve points in Cologne more,” he stated in a post on Facebook.

Special aesthetic considerations were included in the new safety measures. Old pieces of the building’s pinnacles are being incorporated into the street closures.

Historically, the cathedral is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Europe. Construction began in 1248, but it was not completed until 1880. Inside, a golden shrine contains the relics of the Magi. In 1996, Cologne cathedral was recognized as UNESCO world heritage monument.

In early February, local church leaders met to review existing security measures and announced changes that would take effect in March.

Any of the church’s six million annual visitors will be subject to random bag searches, including anyone who climbs the tower’s 509 steps. Large suitcases, luggage, and walking backpacks are no longer allowed inside.

In addition to the cathedral Swiss guards, private security has been hired, according to a post on the Köln Dom Facebook page.

Lane Luckie, a news anchor and reporter for KLTV in Tyler, Texas, is traveling in Germany and Belgium as part of a fellowship with the RIAS Berlin Commission. The bi-national journalist exchange, which is a partnership with the Radio Television Digital News Foundation, was established in 1992 to promote understanding between the United States and Germany in the field of broadcasting. Click here to learn more.

The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of KLTV/KTRE-TV or Raycom Media. They are solely the opinion of the author. All content © Copyright 2017 Lane Luckie

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