Bluffs of Weiss


Weiss Lake Property Daytrip to the Ave Maria Grotto 

Fascinating Handmade Architectural Wonders

No outing to the Cullman area from your Weiss Lake property at The Bluffs is complete without a visit to Ave Maria Grotto. This is a fascinating miniature architectural display of Jerusalem, situated less than an hour from Huntsville in Cullman, Alabama. The grandiose structure represents several scenes from Bible and events that have occurred in the Holy Land. For its exquisite mythical structures in minature architecture, this Grotto is globally nicknamed as “Little Jerusalem”.

Ave Maria Grotto is basically a wonderfully landscaped four-acre park, which offers a natural setting to 125-miniature reproductions of some historic buildings and shrines of the world. It occupies a huge area by the wooded hillside off to the side of an abbey; where a concrete path winds up and down a hillside.

Magnificent carvings of Ave Maria Grotto

Some of the most beautiful sculptures designed in the Grotto includes a replica of Castle Trausnitz and St. Martin’s Church in his hometown of Bavaria, a shrine to St. Peter and the ‘Tower of Thanks,’ a tile-bejeweled, four-foot spire topped with four green transparent glass balls, Roman landmarks, replicas of the famous Shrines of Our Lady, Fatima and Lourdes, which had actually come from Ireland and were originally used as floats for fishing nets.

Ave Maria Grotto is also interspersed with other replicas, which are specifically un-catholic sculptures like ‘Hansel and Gretel Visit the Temple of the Fairies’. This was an innocent story of his childhood when the famous sculpturer was in Bavaria, and displays a dragon made of bits of stone, marbles, and green tile. There are also various replicas of the Great Pyramid and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the latter completed with plastic toy elephants.

Brother Joseph Zoettl – the magic in his hands

This famous structure of Ave Maria Grotto was solely hand made by a Benedictine monk Brother Joseph Zoettl, of St. Bernard Abbey. He began creating this structure as a hobby but very soon it became significant as he began to focus intense attention to the project. With a truly outstanding sense for symmetry and proportion, Brother Joseph created the most magnificent edifices in Ave Maria Grotto.

When people from all over the world came to know about Brother Joseph’s endeavors, they started sending him materials with which he could complete carving the famous structures. So Brother Joseph structured his Ave Maria Grotto with discarded building supplies, plastic animals, toilet bowl floats, cold cream jars, tile chips, stones, cement, shells, rocks, chandelier prisms and beads.

Admission facts about Ave Maria Grotto

When you are in Cullman, Alabama, you should take some time to stop by the Ave Maria Grotto and experience its exquisite architectural splendors. Almost all the tourists including adults, children, seniors, and even babies can gain admission to Ave Maria Grotto for a modest admission fee ranging between “FREE” for children under 6 up to no more than $5. The Grotto remains open from 7.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m. all through the year. It is closed only on Christian occasion days.