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culture, stories and memories bring churches and grottos to life


In(spire)d. W


hat is it about churches that makes them so compelling? Maybe it’s the spires and bell


towers that from a distance rise into the sky and offer you your first glimpse of a new town or city. Or maybe it’s the history, the art, the architecture or any number of events and programs filling its social calendar that pulls a visitor through the double doors and into a splash of colored light thrown from stained glass windows. Just thinking about it, you can probably recall the echo of footsteps under a vaulted ceiling and the mingled aroma of flowers and burning candle wax. Churches are full-sensory experiences.


BY BRITT AAMODT


As a group tour operator, you’ll be happy to know churches are also great motorcoach destinations with good-size parking lots, friendly guides and multifaceted programming that take in some of America’s most breathtaking architecture. Best of all, most of them are free, though a goodwill donation is always happily accepted.


A great thing about Minnesota, and the Upper Midwest in general, is that it has lots of churches, and a fair number of grottos too. Grotto, from the Italian grotta, often refers to a natural cave. But in the Upper Midwest that also includes the rock gardens, artificial hills and cement structures constructed by men and women who though unschooled in architecture, nevertheless managed to draw—and still do—crowds with their colorful effigies and murals of glass and stone. So if you’re looking for sites that provide a wealth of experience, yet are still light on the wallet, get on board as we investigate some of the attractions of Minnesota’s churches and grottos.


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