Rosslyn Chapel has chalked up a £1.35m surplus due to the stream of visitors who came to see the building in the wake of the Da Vinci Code film.
The 15th-century Scottish church, which featured in the controversial hit movie, saw the number of visitors climb from just 30,000 a year in 2000 to 120,000 in 2005/06 and 176,000 in 2006/07.
The cash is being ploughed into speeding up a planned £12.75m renovation of the building and a revamped visitor centre.
But the managers of the attraction, entrance to which costs £7 for adults and £5 for children, believe that Da Vinci Code fever has peaked and that annual visitor numbers are due to fall by about 20,000 a year.
They believe that the number of visitors in 2007/08 will fall to 155,000 as the effect of the film wears off – although numbers are still well above the annual target of 80,000.
Colin Glynne-Percy, the director of Rosslyn Chapel, said: “We think it’s clear now that the initial interest in the aftermath of the film has peaked. If you look at the figures for the August bank holiday, they were 31,000 in 2006 and 29,000 in 2007.
“We did achieve the aim of getting visitor numbers up and we want to make it an essential destination for visitors to Scotland.”
He explained the takings were being used to speed up a major series of works to the building.
Glynne-Percy said: “The money raised may only be used for the upkeep of the building. The renovations will be completed within five years. Without the extra money, they would have taken considerably longer. Several years longer.”
The chapel features in both the Da Vinci Code book and the film. It emerges in the film as the ultimate location of the Holy Grail.
Among Rosslyn’s many intricate carvings are a sequence of 213 cubes or boxes protruding from pillars and arches with a selection of patterns on them. It is unknown whether these have any particular meaning.
Many people have attempted to find information coded into them, but as yet no interpretation has proven conclusive.
By Murdo MacLeod