RABRAI’s Most Amazing Stop: Largest Man-made Grotto in West Bend

Largest Man-made grotto

Not only is it the largest man-made grotto in the world, but it also has the largest collection of precious stones and gems found anywhere in one location – petrified wood, stalactite and stalagmite, malachite, jasper, quartz crystals, and many more.

The beauty is truly in the details of this magnificent hand-built structure.

(Click on the image to get the best view!)

For those that don’t know (I didn’t!), a grotto is an artificial structure made to resemble a cave or cavern. Today, it almost always refers to Catholic shrines built in rock formations.

This grotto was spectacular. It is a composite of nine separate grottos, each portraying a scene in the life of Christ.

It is built entirely by hand and covers one city block.

From their brochure:

Father Paul Dobberstein gathered rocks and precious stones from around the world for a decade before starting construction in 1912. For the next 42 years, he created hundreds of intricate rock settings that form the Grotto’s walls and ceilings. Two others (a parishioner and a Catholic pastor) carried on the work after his death.

We spent up to an hour enjoying this amazing grotto. Even amidst all the other bicyclists, it was deeply meaningful.

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