It is the symbol of a city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the most recognised and greatest symbol of German Catholicism and Gothic architecture. But that didn't save Germany's world-renowned Cologne Cathedral from a prolonged, humiliating and deafening assault from fireworks during last New Year's Eve mass to mark the year's end.
Barbara Schock-Werner, who served as cathedral architect between 1999 and 2012, was present at the well-attended religious service along with several thousand other worshippers. Shock-Werner told the German newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine, that the cathedral experienced an unprecedented and massive rocket and 'banger' fireworks barrage that lasted the whole service.
"Again and again the north window of the cathedral was lit up red, because rocket after rocket flew against it," she said. "And because of the 'bangers', it was very loud. The visitors to the service sitting on the north side had difficulties hearing. I feared at times that panic would break out."