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'Da Vinci Code' tourists flock to chapel
Richard Pruitt and his wife Myra, visit Rosslyn Chapel after reading about the medieval church featured in Dan Brown's novel, 'The Da Vinci Code', in Roslin, Midlothian, Scotland. A total of 117,000 visitors came to the church in 2005 — more than three times the number three years ago — and another 145,000 are expected this year, according to director Stuart Beattie.

ROSLIN, Scotland — There's no mystical rose line running through it, no Star of David carved into the floor or hidden vault where the fabled Holy Grail may rest. And the brutal veil of metal scaffolding shrouding the chapel doesn't help either.

Reality at Rosslyn Chapel is very different from the portrayal in Dan Brown's hit thriller, "The Da Vinci Code," but the novel has been a welcome boost for a church in desperate need of repair. Visitors are charged $12.50 to enter.

The book suggests the medieval stone building perched in a gentle fold of the Pentland hills outside Edinburgh could be the repository of the Holy Grail — and, with it, the secret of whether Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene founded a dynasty.

Many visitors, although drawn by the novel, are skeptical of its theories.

"I loved the book, but at no time did I come here thinking I should look for the Holy Grail," said Margaret Silberman, a psychologist from Chicago, as she emerged into the chapel's blossom-splashed garden.

"It didn't disappoint me that it's not just as Brown described — it's fiction, after all."

Myra Pruitt from Atlanta also didn't support Brown's theories, "but even without that, this is a spiritual, fascinating place," she said.

Rosslyn hosted 117,000 visitors in 2005 — more than three times the number three years ago — and another 145,000 are expected this year, said Stuart Beattie, the church director.

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Hoping to swell visitor numbers, VisitScotland, the official tourist agency, invested $54,000 on a DVD, "The Rosslyn Enigma," to promote the destination.

Guides tell visitors that the chapel, built in the shape of a cross, was founded in 1446 by Sir William St. Clair, a Grand Master in the Knights Templar.

The chapel is probably just the back end of what was conceived as a much grander building, but Rosslyn is famed for its profuse and exuberant decoration.

Guides focus on the intricate stone carvings of angels and green men (a sign of rebirth) and the "apprentice pillar" with its wreaths of stone leaves, named for a young worker supposedly killed by a boss jealous of his skill.

Movie director Ron Howard brought Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou to the chapel to film scenes from the book.

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