The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, or more often simply referred to as the Grotto, is a 62-acre breathtaking sanctuary garden sitting on top of Portland's Rocky Butte. The Grotto is a meditative spot in a beautiful surrounding and if you are anywhere near Northeast Portland, this is the place you must visit to see nature's beauty in this man-made garden. This site is located just 8 miles (13 km) from downtown Portland and is easily accessible by public or private transportation.
The Grotto was created in 1924 as a Roman Catholic sanctuary, but it welcomes visitors of all faiths. It is estimated that each year 300,000 people attend this serene location. The famous Christmas Festival of Lights is held here every December attracting 60,000 guests annually. The Sanctuary is divided into two levels. The lower level is open for visitors free of charge, while the upper level has an admission fee.
Grotto Lower Level
The main attraction of the Grotto's lower level is a man-made cave carved in a basalt cliff and used as a cathedral. In the center of the cave, there is a replica of Michelangelo's Pietà, Mary holding the crucified body of Jesus, surrounded by candles and flowers.
The lower level also features the Chapel of Mary with a mass that is held every Sunday, art gallery, gift shop, and visitor's center. You can take a walk at the lower Grotto's trail and enjoy the sculptures depicting the 14 Stations of the Cross. The Grotto Plaza holds Sunday mass too, but only May through October because of being outdoors.
Grotto Upper Level
The Grotto's upper level can be accessed via an elevator for a fee. This elevator will take you up the rocky cliff to the Grotto's beautiful gardens. However, the main gem of the upper level is the Marilyn Moyer meditation chapel, a breathtaking structure created in 1991. This architectural wonder is made out of granite and glass with the north wall being made completely out of glass overlooking Columbia River Valley and the Cascade Mountains. There is another Pietà sitting in the middle of the chapel. Marilyn Moyer meditation chapel won numerous awards for this architectural design both in the USA and internationally.
The upper level features the Peace Garden with fir trees and flowers of various kinds blooming in late spring and early summer. The garden's trail will take you through nature's beauty and to the Grotto's crimson brick labyrinth. Another trail on the upper level will take you to small brick St. Anne's Chapel holding paintings for visitors to enjoy.
Open: Year-round except Christmas Day