Grotto of the Redemption

The Grotto of the Redemption, colloquially referred to as “The Grotto,” is a visually stunning and spiritually enriching place of pilgrimage in West Bend, Iowa. Often considered the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” this Grotto holds the record as the largest man-made Grotto in the world and boasts the largest collection of precious stones and gems found in one location.

Comprised of nine separate grottos, each space portrays a different scene from the life of Jesus Christ. It’s a religious and artistic masterpiece where the story of humanity’s fall and redemption is expressed in silent yet spiritually eloquent stone. It’s no wonder The Iowan magazine describes the Grotto as a “Miracle in Stone.”

The Grotto’s origin story is just as moving as the scenes it illustrates. Father Paul Dobberstein, a young seminarian at the time, fell critically ill with pneumonia. As he struggled for his life, he fervently prayed to the Blessed Virgin Mary for the grace of good health, promising to build a shrine in her honor if he survived. The illness passed, and after completing his studies and becoming ordained, Father Dobberstein came to West Bend as a pastor in 1898.

Keeping his promise, he spent over a decade collecting rocks and precious stones, with construction of the Grotto commencing in 1912. Father Dobberstein utilized a wide array of minerals, precious and semi-precious stones to build the Grotto, including petrified wood, malachite, azurite, agates, geodes, jasper, quartz, topaz, calcite, and stalactites and stalagmites.

In recognition of its historical and cultural value, the Grotto was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.

The Grotto of the Redemption invites visitors from around the world to its location at:

208 1st Avenue NW PO Box 376 West Bend, Iowa 50597

There, visitors can explore this architectural and religious marvel, taking in the detailed stone work, the intricate scenes from Christ’s life, and the serene, spiritually charged atmosphere. Whether you’re a person of faith, a lover of art, or just an admirer of unique structures, the Grotto of the Redemption offers an unforgettable experience.

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Robert Riesmeyer

Introducing Robert Riesmeyer: The Visionary Behind Travel Unrivaled

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