This post is a bit different than my usual posts. I started to write this as a pros and cons list and then concluding my opinion, but as I began to do some research and dug deeper into my own opinions, I realized it wasn’t so cut and dry. Should there be entrance fees to religious sites? I want to know your opinion. I am still going to give my opinion on paying entrances fees, but I also want to hear your thoughts!
For many religious sites, this is a way to pay for needed conservation and repairs. This is important so that we can all continue to enjoy the site and so future generations can see it as well.
It also helps with safety. Religious sites can pay for staff to be there during opening hours. Unfortunately, we live in a time where some people would vandalize a church or a mosque. Having staff be present would deter this and allows the site to be open more than just during worship times. It also protects the worshiper to have staff present.
Visitors numbers can help an organization receive grant money to do things that are even beyond what the entrance fee would cover. It gives some proof that the site needs money to maintain the site so visitors will come.
Admittedly some religious sites are just charging an entrance fee to pay the electric bills, but it is still a valid reason to pay.
It discourages people from wanting to pray there. It is hard to know if you can go in to pray without paying the free. Many places have signs saying this, but they haven’t always been easy to see. Many time you still have to wait in the ticket line to get in to pray.
If the fee is very high, I can’t go into every church as all those fees add up. Most of us have a budget to stick to and want to see as much as our budget allows. If I am paying $10 a church or mosque, I am going to run out of budget quickly.
The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is what sparked this discussion with myself. The entrance fee is €15. This does not include anything like an audio tour or entrance to the top. Many of you know there are hundreds of people trying to get into this church every day. The fee seems high considering how many people are paying to get in. Of course, they are also paying lots of staff. But I also wonder if the continuous building, that we may be financing, is a cycle of attracting visitors and having them pay. If it was in the US, I could probably find out the details of the financing, but I can only speculate here.
A few churches in Porto had free entry to the church and then you had to pay to get into a special part of the church, like a tower. I feel this is a great way to balance the need to raise money and still allow people access to the church.
If a religious site is paying for conservation and staff with the fee I don’t have an issue with it. When the fee becomes high and is unclear what they are using it for, I get wary. I also realize that there is no clear-cut answer to this question.
What do you think? Are you happy to pay the fee? Is there a limit to how much you will pay?
The God I believe in is not short of cash! U2
Haha! God probably has mixed feelings about this as well.
Ooh, very good points. I like visiting cathedrals in the UK, and they do differ in their entrance charges. Most seem to go a “recommended donation” route, with a big clear box into which you can slip your coins or notes. I don’t mind that, and I will pay what I can afford and what I think is fair. Above everything else, these are places of worship and they should be available to everyone 🙂
Thanks. I also feel torn because once I am inside I sometimes feel the urge to pray.
I paid for Sagrada. I don’t remember for the Duomo. Like you I don’t mind conservation fees. Churches are businesses. And the stained glass I’d pay more to see, art that it is. I’m not even particularly religious.
I paid for the Duomo too. Good point about the stained glass being art!
I think finding a balance is better. An entrance fee puts a lot of people off especially families as it can be quite expensive but leaving a donation is more inclusive in my opinion and experience.
It can get expensive really fast! Balance is good.
Definitely agree with Em and Rachael regarding the donation system. So much less confronting and a happier experience for those who don’t have much spare cash. Though for churches who are in need of major renovation on an ongoing basis the donation system won’t be of use.
I like the donation thing so much. If they need major renovation then they probably need a campaign to raise money.
I don’t mind paying an entrance fee as yes to restoration and security. 15 euros I would really have to think it if was worth that. Was it Em that suggested a recommended donation that is a good idea. I think I am with you I don’t mind paying but not through the roof. Or putting it out of people’s price range.
I think many of us are on the same page. Thanks!
I might be opening a can of worms here, the other controversial topic is people / tourist taking photographs at religious sites, especially where people are praying whether it be inside or outside. For me it loses its serenity feeling and almost boarders on violation of personal space. Maybe a solution could be to divide the operating hours to worship (no fees no photography) and tourist attraction (entrance fee and photography allowed).
I agree! If I see lots of people praying I don’t take photos or limit them. I went into a church in India and phots were forbidden entirely! I think your idea is perfect.
I don’t agree with paying as churches have more than enough money for the upkeep of their religious sites. I also don’t believe that making you pay keeps the vandalisation down as just being shut does this. These days, religious sites seem to be shut more often than not.
The other thing I don’t agree on is you can visit a church for free if you sit in on one of its service, but if you want to visit as a tourist, you need to pay.
Thank you! So glad to hear a different opinion. You make some great points. Do you have any ideas as to why they are closed more now?
I am always on a tight budget when traveling. If an entrance fee is high, we pass it by.
Yeah by the time I finished my last trip I was getting tired of spending so much money on entrance fees. I understand they are needed but some were really high!