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Portland, Oregon: The Grotto: Catholic Cliff Shrines and Gardens

62-acre Roman Catholic shrine and botanical garden built on two levels along a 110 ft. cliff. Elevator ride, carved Mary scenes, tiny chapel with paintings of Mary, Pieta replica.

National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother

8840 NE Skidmore St., Portland, OR
National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, a few short blocks away from the corner of NE 82nd [OR-213] and NE Sandy [US-30]. Watch for signs off of NE Sandy as you approach. Near the junction of the 1-205 and I-84.
Open daily; closed Thanksgiving, Christmas following mass (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
$4/$3 adults/children, seniors for elevator ride to gardens, meditation chapel
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Visitor Tips and News About The Grotto: Catholic Cliff Shrines and Gardens

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Angel statue.

The Grotto: Catholic Cliff Shrines and Gardens

The statue in the meditation building is now the Pieta. The view from there is astounding, with 180 degrees to land and city below.

[Carol, 07/25/2013]

Upper Level Meditation Chapel.

The Grotto: Catholic Cliff Shrines and Gardens

The Grotto (AKA The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother) is home to lovely gardens and religious statuary, and the view of Portland from the Meditation Chapel carved into the cliffside is excellent. You can see the Grotto (the altar depicting The Pieta set into a vine-covered hollow in the cliff), the church, and some of the gardens for free, but the elevator ride to the Meditation Chapel and the main gardens is worth the small price. A must-see for anyone wanting a quiet, serene Roadside stop.

When we visited, the life-like Madonna and Child had been replaced by another Pieta reproduction. The Madonna and Child had been moved to the gift shop next to the church on the first level.

[Meg, 08/14/2012]

The Grotto has areas to discover on its two levels; the elevator ride is 110 ft. Upper level includes a former tiny chapel, St. Anne's, filled with paintings of the Virgin Mary from around the world, and there's a series of outdoor displays of wood-carved scenes from the life of Mary.

Blessing of the Animals - Event and Statue

Take a gander at your calendar: if it happens to be the third Sunday in July, get your domestic animals ready for a road trip. The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother [lovingly referred to as The Grotto] holds their Annual Blessing of the Animals at 2pm on this day.

Come yipping Pomeranian, come albino python, come cricket collection, all are welcome in this outdoor sanctuary presided by a Friar from the Order of Servants of Mary. You say your pet isn't Catholic? After the short Mass, religion doesn't seem to matter, as the procession of animals -- and their owners -- line up to be doused liberally with holy water. Birds seem to be the most amenable to this unexpected shower, skittish pit bulls less so, so be aware.

[Melissa Nickles, 10/28/2006]

If you arrive on any other day of the year, you can visit a bronze statue of animals being blessed in the Grotto.

Grotto Pod.

Grotto - Pod Mother and Child

I visited The Grotto, a peaceful and spiritual retreat area. If you take the elevator to the top of the gardens, you get gorgeous views of Portland. But brace yourself for the "meditation chapel" -- a very modern building that clashes with the otherwise natural and organic surroundings. Inside the Meditation Room are comfy chairs and huge glass window so you can look out onto the city. That sounds all nice and well, except for the fact the centerpiece of the room are us a lifesize mother-and-child statue that looks very real! Heightening the creepy factor is the fact these two figures are enclosed in a clear pod-like capsule.

[Lakita, 09/16/2006]

Grotto with Pieta replica.

Replica of Michaelangelo's Pieta

At The Grotto, the National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, is an exact replica of Michaelangelo's Pieta. The Grotto is only five minutes from the Portland Airport - much cheaper than booking a ticket to Italy!

[Lakita, 09/16/2006]

Nearby Offbeat Places

Jug-Shaped BuildingJug-Shaped Building, Portland, OR - < 1 mi.
Tiny Horse ProjectTiny Horse Project, Portland, OR - 3 mi.
Zymoglyphic MuseumZymoglyphic Museum, Portland, OR - 3 mi.
In the region:
Little Golden Gate Bridge, Ridgefield, WA - 16 mi.

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