Tourists evacuated from cathedral in exercise

5th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

5 August 2005, COLOGNE - Some 200 surprised tourists who were told to leave the world's biggest Gothic cathedral at top speed Friday learned later from Cologne police that they had been caught up in a disaster exercise in preparation for a visit by Pope Benedict XVI.

5 August 2005

COLOGNE - Some 200 surprised tourists who were told to leave the world's biggest Gothic cathedral at top speed Friday learned later from Cologne police that they had been caught up in a disaster exercise in preparation for a visit by Pope Benedict XVI.

Police hailed the 20-minute total evacuation of Cologne Cathedral, from the lofty steeples to the deep crypts, as a success but said they would fine-tune procedures before 400,000 young Catholic pilgrims arrive in the German city later this month.

While the pope is not scheduled to visit the cathedral during his August 18-21 stay in the city, the pilgrims will queue and shuffle through the cathedral to venerate relics said to be the bones of the Three Kings who attended the birth of Jesus Christ.

The city will be on top alert against disaster or terrorist attack during the six-day Catholic congress known as World Youth Day.

Building Cologne Cathedral took centuries: starting in 1248, two separate sections were erected over a 200-year period then the project stopped. Germany's enthusiasm for its medieval past prompted a huge project from 1842 to 1880 to complete the church.

DPA

Subject: German news

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