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Holy Land USA

Field review by the editors.

Waterbury, Connecticut

This is one Biblical theme park we wish we had seen at its peak. For the last two decades (at least), Holy Land USA has been a post-nuclear Road Warrior vision of the Holy Land, perched on a bluff overlooking Waterbury and the interstate. Most of the rambling spread consisted of impenetrable assemblages of junk. A destroyed set of shanty shacks displayed religious crafts. A scary tunnel led to the catacombs, its mysteries revealed if you remembered to bring a flashlight.

Mini-Bethlehem.

Amidst this squalor were two unlikely items: a tall high tech cross of steel and plastic and large red "Hollywood"-style letters spelling Holy Land USA. On our visits, the gates were always open, unattended -- free admission! With each visit, less and less of the park remained. Heads disappeared from statues, the "Garden of Eden" was picked clean, the catacombs got scarier.

A massive miniature Jerusalem (or maybe Bethlehem) covers one hillside. The craftsmanship is not as precise as, say, the Ava Maria Grotto in Cullman, AL -- but the sheer size makes up for it.

In July 2010 a local 16-year old girl was strangled, her body dumped in Holy Land by a 19-year old friend who confessed to police. Holy Land remains officially closed to the public, though there is an effort underway to restore some of its displays.

Also see: Holy Land USA | Take a Pilgrimage

Holy Land USA

Address:
Slocum Road, Waterbury, CT
Directions:
Overlooks I-84 and the Brass Mill Center. Heading east, I-84 exit for S. Main St. -- stay straight on McMahon St., turn right on Baldwin St. then left on Pleasant St, which turns left on Emerald, then go right on Ayers St. to end.
Hours:
Private property, not officially open. Ask permission.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

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In the region:
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July 29, 2015

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