Tucked away in the small town of West Bend, Iowa, lies the relatively unknown Shrine of the Grotto of Redemption. It is known as the 8th wonder of the world, and despite not officially been given the name by any organization, a visit to this incredible place will convince you that it is a wonder.
This grotto is not only the biggest man-made grotto in the world, but it is also the largest collection of gems and precious stones in any one place. The last time it was evaluated, it was estimated to be worth $4.3 million in gems and stones alone. It also took over 90 years to complete. What is the story behind this incredible and unique place in Central Iowa?
Father Paul Dobberstein became ill with pneumonia and made a promise to God that if he will get better he will build a shrine to thank him. When he was healed in 1912, he began construction and worked year-round for 42 years until his death in 1954. Father Greving then took over and worked for another 50 years until its completion!
There are collections of gems and stones from all 50 states, along with many incredible pieces from around the globe. The amount of beautiful artwork and natural resources is an incredible sight to see and brings over 100,000 visitors to this small town every year.