Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Travel Tuesday: Ave Maria Grotto

End of the school year, birthdays, etc.... haven't been here, sorry.... enjoy this about a stop we made during spring break:



Ave Maria Grotto is on the grounds of St Bernard Abbey in Cullman, Alabama, north of Birmingham. It was spared the destruction of the recent tornadoes and is open for visitors every day but Christmas and New Year's Day from 9am - 5pm (stays open till 6pm April-September). Admission is $7 for adults, $4.50 for kids 6-12, $5 for seasoned citizens and children under 6 are free. The bathrooms are nun-standard Clean, and it has a great gift shop, too. You don't have to be Catholic to enjoy it, heck you don't even have to be Christian to appreciate it- this place will blow your mind.

Brother Joseph Zoetl, O.S.B. was a monk at the Abbey for almost 70 years. Over that time, he created a series of miniature sculptures of numerous secular landmarks and important Christian sites. They cover two full blocks which you can walk along at your leisure, guided by a detailed brochure.


Here is Nicholas about to get his hand swatted for touching, but it shows the scale well.




You can see how far it stretches and how it is arranged. This is not even 1/4 of the Grotto.




While a lot of unrelated things are jumbled together, often there are small clusters of themes, such as Jerusalem and the Holy Land.


Much cheaper than traveling to see these places for real. In fact, Brother Zoetl never saw these places in his long life, he used photographs and artistic concepts.






St Peter's Basilica




Remember the Alamo!





Brother Zoetl also made several structures from his imagination, often using milk bottles, marbles, and other creative castaway items to embellish his designs.



Can you see the dragon in the cave underneath?




Roar!


Honestly this isn't even half my photos, like I said, the place is amazing. One of the most awesome pit-stops I've ever made.