Visitors to York Minister are to be charged for admission for the first time.
A scheme asking for voluntary donations of £3.50 has not worked
A voluntary donation scheme has failed to raise enough money for the cathedral's future spending plans.
The Archbishop of York Dr David Hope has said he is "dismayed and saddened" by the decision.
The level of charge has not been confirmed, but voluntary donations were set at £3.50 while Canterbury Cathedral charges £4.
More than one million people visit the Minster each year, although the number of overseas visitors has fallen since the foot and mouth crisis and the Iraqi war.
Only one in four visitors to the Minster, Europe's biggest mediaeval cathedral, gave a donation last year.
Brigadier Peter Lyddon, Chapter Steward of York Minster, said: "At the moment we have insufficient income for the planned expenditure.
"We do charge to go up the tower, but yes, this will be a new charge.
"We tried for a year with voluntary donations but only 25% of people gave us a donation, which was very disappointing.
"This has come as a last resort."
The admission charge will come into effect from the summer.