Tucked away in Cullman, Alabama, is a true artistic gem. Ave Maria Grotto was the brainchild of Brother Joseph Zoetl, a Benedictine monk at St. Bernard Abbey.
Brother Joseph moved to St. Bernard Abbey from Landshut, Bavaria in 1892. In his spare time, he used found and donated material to create miniature replicas of many of the world’s most famous buildings, sites, and monuments. 125 total structures grace a winding 2-block path through the gardens.
The use of broken glass, stones, and seemingly random objects create these one-of-a-kind works of art. Take an afternoon to walk the 2 square blocks of the grotto, there are so many small details to devour, you’ll want to take your time.
There are hills, but the wide path is paved and there is a handrail, so the Ave Maria Grotto is accessible for all.
As St. Bernard Abbey is a working monastery, there is a Catholic church, Catholic preparatory school, and retreat center on site. If desired, guests can attend church services with the monks and even stay in a private guest room.