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Iowa's Grotto - A Real Gem
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Iowa's Grotto - A Real Gem

The Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend is literally a gem all Iowans can be proud of. People from around the world make pilgrimages there. Every Iowan ought to see it, too, no matter what your religion, if for no reason than to appreciate the work and vision that went into building it.

Started in 1912, and built almost single-handedly over 42 years by local parish priest Father Dobberstein, the Grotto of the Redemption covers the better part of a city block.

It’s actually nine distinct grottos that depict the fall and redemption of man—all built with gems and semiprecious stones individually set in concrete.

You might say Father Dobberstein left no stone unturned for he gathered them from around the world to create this architectural and spiritual marvel. “If your messages are carved in stone, they are nigh well imperishable,” he once reflected.

The Grotto isn’t the only thing to see in West Bend. This peppy town of 800 people has worked hard to make their community a destination where you can spend the better part of the day at the Grotto as well as browsing gift and antique shops along Main Street. Hats off to their community spirit and pride!

There’s even an old-fashioned soda fountain called The Villager, where we had cherry and chocolate Cokes and visited with locals.

This content previously appeared in the popular “Road Trip” series in Our Iowa Magazine. Learn more about the publication at

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